Council Members Voice Opinions on Lawrence Township’s Police Situation

(GantDaily File Photo)

CLEARFIELD – The Lawrence Township police situation was a hot topic at Thursday’s Clearfield Borough Council committees meeting. Council put the township on notice when they decided not to have the Clearfield Borough Police Department respond to township calls when no township officers are on duty.

This discussion about due news from Tuesday’s Lawrence Township Supervisors meeting. According to a prior Gant article, the Supervisors noted on Tuesday that the Lawrence Township police had not been obeying a directive not to accumulate overtime.  Johnston noted that some shifts were reporting only four calls all shift.  The supervisors had directed the township police to utilize the state police more often for slower shifts.

In the last year, the township has lost members of their police department and then not budgeted for replacements in 2012. Supervisor Glenn Johnston has also been vocal about regionlization between Curwensville and Clearfield Boroughs, and Lawrence Township.

Council member Trish Kavelak commented on Johnston’s efforts in light of the current situation.

“Mr. Johnston’s stance … is kind of offensive.”

Clearfield Borough Police Chief Vincent McGinnis noted that, under the current situation, his men had questions about what they should do if there was a callout to the township. Borough Solicitor F. Cortzez “Chip” Bell III stated that there are liability issues with the borough officers covering for the township when that municipality has no officers on duty.

“We have no jurisdiction there,” said Bell. He stated that Lawrence Township needed one of their officers to be on duty for the mutual aid statute to work.

Bell recommended that council form an opinion on how they want their department to respond. He said from there, the police department can develop a policy. He also recommended that he, the police department and the department’s insurance agent meet to discuss liability issues.

Council member Fred Wisor said the township needed to be aware that the borough does not want to provide coverage for them. He recommended that council send a letter to the state police, and if the state police is called in to a township incident when township officers are not on duty, and then requests the borough’s aid, they should provide aid.

Council member Jim Kling also weighed in on the subject.

“I don’t like them using our personnel to balance their budget.”

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