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Study of regional police force back on the table

JERSEY SHORE — While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic halted the feasibility study to look at regionalizing police services within the Tiadaghton Valley and Old Lycoming and Woodward townships, Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police Chief Nathan Deremer said he’s hoping to start discussion back up again within the next couple of months.

“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. Whether the study comes back in a positive or negative way, Deremer said there is 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 that. 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, the option of becoming one organization would not be 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 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.”

Old Lycoming now has a five-year contract to cover Hepburn Township, and Hepburn Township Supervisor Robert Fesemyer said he doesn’t think that this regionalization would create any issues.

“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 said discussions should be starting back up to get the process moving along as travel from DCED to conduct additional research in these areas 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.

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