Laflin Weighs Options For Police Coverage
LAFLIN — Local police officers could start patrolling again soon in Laflin, where the issue of police coverage has been a hot topic since the borough police force disbanded three years ago.
Borough council will hold an informational public meeting on Thursday about a proposal for Laflin to contract police services from neighboring Jenkins Twp., which maintains a full-time police department.
At the meeting, Laflin and Jenkins Twp. officials will explain details of the proposed three-year agreement, according to Laflin Borough Manager Charles Boyd.
The agreement calls for Laflin to pay Jenkins Twp. $65,000 for police coverage in 2018, with annual increases of $2,000 in 2019 and 2020. Jenkins Twp. officers would provide around-the-clock coverage for Laflin starting Jan. 1, 2018, the agreement states.
Laflin’s 2018 budget, scheduled to be adopted Dec. 12, will not include a property tax increase whether or not council approves the police agreement with Jenkins Twp., council President Glen Gubitose said Thursday.
“We were able to put this together without raising anyone’s taxes,” said Gubitose, who last month lost a bid for re-election. “It’s doing what is best for our borough.”
Not everyone agrees.
Last week, Councilman Carl Yastremski and Councilmen-elect Paul Benderavich and Anthony D’Eliseo sent a letter to Laflin and Jenkins Twp. officials, complaining the outgoing council was trying to “bind Laflin and its taxpayers” to the multi-year contract, which the incoming council would likely not approve.
The letter also states the proposed contract is illegal since it was not advertised for competitive bidding.
Laflin has relied on state police coverage since borough council voted to disband the borough police force in December 2014, at a raucous council meeting that “devolved into chaos,” according to a report The Citizens’ Voice published at the time.
Since then, the question of whether Laflin should restore local or regional police coverage has enlivened council meetings and impacted council elections.
Benderavich and Yastremski were among four council members who voted to disband the Laflin police force three years ago. Gubitose cast the lone “no” vote.
Benderavich lost a bid for re-election in the 2015 primary, finishing last among five candidates.
Last month, Benderavich was elected to a council seat. He collected the second-highest vote total behind Yastremski, who won another term on council. Gubitose finished last among four candidates.
Gubitose on Thursday said the seeming shift in Laflin public opinion regarding police issues stemmed from “propaganda” that opponents of local police options distributed during the election campaign.
The proposed agreement between Laflin and Jenkins Twp. would remain in effect if Jenkins Twp. joins a regional police department during the course of the contract.
Jenkins Twp. officials have discussed police regionalization options with nearby municipalities for years, but those talks fell apart earlier this year after Dupont and Pittston Twp. dropped out.
Officials of Jenkins Twp. and Yatesville are discussing a potential regional force, according to Jenkins Twp. Supervisor Bob Linskey.
Thursday’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Laflin municipal building, 47 Laflin Road.
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