Police union issues remain unresolved
BY STACI WILSON
Silver Lake’s police force remained the main topic of discussion at the supervisor’s Oct. 4 meeting.
Prior to opening the floor to public comment, Supervisor Francis Fruehan said, “I want to make it clear to everybody that we are not planning to dissolve the police force.”
The Silver Lake Police Department’s plans to unionize and enter into collective bargaining with the municipality have raised resident questions in the township.
Fruehan and Supervisor Evan Everitt pointed out what they described as inaccuracies circulated in a flyer distributed throughout the township, regarding road department employees and supervisor pay.
A Labor Relations Board hearing, scheduled to be held Sept. 14 in Harrisburg, was postponed at the request of the township’s labor attorney. The purpose of the hearing was to establish if the police chief is allowed to participate in collective bargaining. A new hearing date has not yet been set, said Fruehan.
A large group of Silver Lake residents crowded the meeting hall, although the number of attendees waned from the September meeting held in the municipal garage to handle the audience of over 200.
The primary concern voiced by residents was the cost associated with maintaining a unionized police force.
“We’re all here about the numbers,” said one man who identified himself as a union member. “We agree we need a police element but not necessarily a police force.”
The man, along with another self identified union member, noted high costs associated with union employees.
Former supervisor Terence Dugan said, “Unless we know what is being requested, we’re just blowing smoke here.”
Fruehan noted, “A lot of things you union guys know don’t necessarily apply here.”
Supervisors and the police department have both been advised by attorneys to not comment on the proposed contract or bargaining agreement at this time.
One resident proposed that the police rescind the collective bargaining notice and that “we sit down as human beings without a union getting involved and find a solution as a group.”
The supervisors were also questioned about the posing and bonding of township roads.
Dugan asked where the township was in the bonding process. “The roads are in great shape/ I want to make sure they are kept that way,” said Dugan.
Everitt, who is also the Silver Lake road master, said the township is still waiting on the municipal road study results.
One resident asked how the 10-ton road limit would be enforced. “Ten tons is not a lot,” said the man. “The trucks that go by weigh more than 10 tons, that could be a lot of money (in fines).”
Dugan asked if the police were trained to enforce load limits.
Police Chief Tim Burgh said, “We can not weigh trucks but we can enforce width, load limits and permits.”
Burgh also gave his September police report. He said the township police responded to 35 incidents during the month.
He also noted 12 smashed mailboxes were reported but said he discovered about 20 residents had similar damage done on their property. Burgh said the police have suspects in the criminal mischief incidents.
Burgh advised residents to report those incidents to the police. “If we catch them, we’ll make them pay for the damages.”