Butler Twp. has canceled plans to eliminate its police department and contract with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office for policing services.
Trustees voted Monday night to reverse the earlier decision after discovering the money from a levy passed in 2006 could only be used for the local police department.
“The majority of the board came up with the conclusion that it was best to disband the police department without doing their own due-diligence to see if it was even possible,” said Trustee Mike Lang.
Under the agreement with the sheriff’s department, the township would have saved $28,000, would have guaranteed nine officers on all shifts and the township’s officers 15 officers would have been absorbed into the sheriff’s department.
The township spends $1.9 million a year to run its police department. It is without a chief, but trustees have authorized the city manager to hire for the position.
Officials said they are moving forward to find ways to save money and keep the police department together.
The township has saved approximately $100,000 by using three sergeants when they previously had four. Officers will also switch from 12 hour shifts to eight hour shifts in July.
“The overtime adds up and you also wear out the officers,” said Trustee Joe Flanagan. The department could also be facing staffing cuts due to costs in about five years, he said.
Trustee Nick Brusky favored the move to the county saying it’s difficult for the township to maintain full staffing.
“When we have officers go overseas for military duty or people who are sick, it is hard to fill shifts,” Brusky said.
The township may consider merging with another municipality to maintain a local police force, Brusky said.
Residents had mixed feelings about Monday’s decision.
Ray Engleman, who lives near the current police department, said he thought it was a good idea.
“We would have had the same officers we have now,” Engleman said. ” We already get assistance from the sheriff’s office when we need them so it’s not much of a change.”
Bruce Leland, said the idea was opposed by many of his neighbors.
“Trustees were not listening to people,” Leland said.