Mohnton Borough Council is looking for ways to improve police coverage in the borough, and that has led to much misinformation circulating on social media, Council President Mike DeFeo said Wednesday during council’s monthly work session.
The workshop was held via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are not trying to hide anything,” DeFeo said. “We are consulting experts and will bring a plan forward.”
Projected spending for police services accounts for nearly half of the borough’s $1.6 million budget for 2021, DeFeo said.
Mohnton currently has its own police department with three full-time officers, not enough to provide around-the-clock coverage. State police respond to calls when the borough department is out of service, but do not respond to calls that involve ordinance violations.
Since the current system is inadequate, he said, only two options remain: expanding the borough police force to six full-time officers or dissolving the department and contracting for coverage from another municipality, most likely Cumru Township.
Council hired a consultant to provide a detailed analysis of the costs of each option.
One option not under consideration is relying only on state police to respond to calls. DeFeo said that’s not palatable in a tightly packed borough that gets a lot of calls for quality-of-life matters.
Slightly more than 3,000 people reside in the borough that covers an area less than 1 square mile.
DeFeo read several letters sent by borough residents. Most supported retaining or expanding the borough’s current police force.
Lori Bush said Mohnton Police Chief Eric A. Pistilli’s quick action last year likely saved her husband, Robert, and their dog from serious injury.
Lori Bush said Pistilli was patrolling the borough when he witnessed another dog attacking Robert Bush and the Bush family dog. Pistilli used a Taser to stop the attacking dog. Without a borough department there might not have been an officer close by and able to act so quickly, she said.
Joel Fastow thanked the council members for their hard work in researching options. Although, he prefers to expand the borough police department, he said, he understands that might not be financially responsible.
DeFeo said council will continue exploring the issue and does not intend to take action this month.
“No one is trying to rush anything through,” he said.