Regionalization regaining steam after shutdown
JERSEY SHORE — While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic halted a feasibility study to look at regionalizing police services within the Tiadaghton Valley and Old Lycoming and Woodward townships, it hopefully will start back up within the next couple of months, according to Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police Chief Nathan Deremer.
“Everything hit a brick wall and stopped,” he said. “At this point we are still waiting on the regional police study to come back from the Department of Community and Economic Development.”
He said that discussions with both Old Lycoming and Woodward townships began just over a year ago with the Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police Commission, which has jurisdiction in Jersey Shore borough and Porter Township, and that if the study were to come back in either a positive or negative way, there were still a lot of discussions to be had.
“It is not an overnight process,” he said. “A lot of discussions will have to happen after the study comes back, on what you actually do after. Those things come with time.”
He added that even if the study, which originally would have begun in February, came back negatively and the two or three organizations foresaw positive changes by regionalizing, that the option of becoming one organization was not off the table.
If both Old Lycoming and Woodward were to regionalize with Tiadaghton Valley, Deremer said that many changes would need to take place, including but not limited to budget changes, location of building, name change, construction for additional buildings, staff, coverage time, etc.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Old Lycoming Township has a population just under 5,000 and Woodward Township has an additional 2,131 as of 2018.
That would be an approximate addition of 8,000 citizens to protect alongside the Tiadaghton Valley Regional’s coverage.
Currently, Tiadaghton Valley and Old Lycoming have a shared services agreement and are working together not only to provide the best coverage for the two areas, but to also build relationships between officers.
“It’s a unique thing,” Deremer added. “The officers are already working together. I can’t see not having two buildings because they (the townships) are so far away from each other.”
Hepburn Township Supervisor Robert Fesemyer doesn’t think that this regionalization will create any issues for Hepburn Township’s current coverage model.
“We just signed a five-year contract with Old Lycoming last year for Old Lycoming to cover and patrol our township,” Fesemyer said. “I don’t know how that would affect us. I would imagine we would still get coverage.”
Deremer also said that these discussions should be starting back up to get the process moving along as travel from DCED to the areas to conduct additional research was also stopped due to COVID-19.
“I would like to think that in the next couple of months we could see some things starting to take off,” he said.