School cautiously supports police
Eastern Regional Pike Police is needed for best school protection, officials say
“Supervisor Ray Banach wanted our police to have arrest powers, and I said I personally would be against that because of what it entails. My general idea is, if a child brings a weapon or a drug to school, I want that drug or weapon out of this school district.”
Jack O'Leary, DV school board
By Anya Tikka
MILFORD — The Delaware Valley school board agreed to support the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department, which is supposed to be dismantled, while keeping a safe distance from Westfall "politics."
Board member Jack O’Leary attended the latest meeting of the Westfall Supervisors, which plans to disband the department.
“In my opinion, we can’t get involved in the politics,” he said while stressing the importance of having police support near to the school in case of an emergency.
The rest of the school board agreed to support the police while remaining neutral, as recommended by O’Leary. Superintendent John Bell and others said the police should be able to get to the school within five to ten minutes after a call, instead of the 20 minutes that it would take the State Police, which would fill the gaps left by the disappearance of Eastern Pike Regional.
Mark Moglia, the chief of the Delaware Valley School Police, said he absolutely wanted to have the backup available fast, and that he’d witnessed the importance of fast response times at past events. Moglia was previously chief of the Westfall Police Department.
The school district’s drug-related incidents have decreased. Moglia has been running special classes about drugs for the past several years. But many other kinds of incidents and emergencies could arise at school, he said.
The school police officers deal with fights, harassment and minor offences themselves, but they don’t have the authority to arrest misdemeanors or felonies.
“We turn them over to them (Eastern Pike) — drug arrests, or weapon possession, or an incident we saw where the victim wants to press charges,” Moglia said.
Westfall wants DV to chip in
The issue came up at the Westfall Supervisors meeting, O’Leary said.
“Supervisor Ray Banach wanted our police to have arrest powers, and I said I personally would be against that because of what it entails," said O'Leary. "My general idea is, if a child brings a weapon or a drug to school, I want that drug or weapon out of this school district.”
He continued, “The chief of Eastern Police Chad Stewart told me they have a great relationship with our police, and why change it, and our officers here said the same.”
The Westfall supervisors also asked O’Leary if the school district could kick in some money. He said he told them: “We collect money out of the same pool Westfall and Matamoras do, it’s taxpayer money. We’re just another taxpayer like Walmart of Kmart or any other individual, another customer of the police. I don’t know the legality of it, but I don’t think we can collect tax payer money to give out taxpayer money.”
The board members agreed.
“Eastern Pike Regional Police Department have been a great partner of ours," Bell explained after the meeting. "We have a great relationship with Chief Chad Stewart and his crew. We’re hopeful that the people of the community support the police as far as we can see into the future.”
Moglia said Eastern Pike is needed. "There was a big drug arrest yesterday," he said (see related story). "If we don’t have the local police, that probably doesn’t happen.”
The issues in connection with the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department are complicated. Larry Flansburg, one of the Westfall supervisors, was arrested and charged with intimidation with incidents related to the proposal to dismantle the Eastern Police.
“It was a very hot meeting," O’Leary said of the Westfall supervisor.
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