West Penn adopts police pension plan
The West Penn Township Board of Supervisors has adopted a pension plan for its police force.
At this week's monthly meeting, the board approved an ordinance establishing the police pension plan.
Township solicitor Gretchen Sterns said that she spoke to Trollinger Consulting Group, which reviewed the Act 600 Police Pension plan.
The ordinance establishes the plan and contributions, explains who is eligible and what the benefits are. The board of supervisors can administrate the plan or else appoint a committee to do so.
Under the ordinance, credit can be given for prior military services as well, said Sterns.
Last month, Supervisors Chairman Alfonso Martinez explained that since the township has three full-time officers, they have to be enrolled in the state pension plan. The cost would be $13,610 a year to cover all three officers under the plan.
Martinez said the township is still waiting on a bill from Trollinger Consulting Group for its review of the plan.
In other police news, the board approved the purchase of three Glock 22 .40 caliber pistols for the police department from Atlantic Tactical, New Cumberland, at a total cost of $1,606.80.
Supervisor James Akins noted he checked with other municipalities and was told they do supply their police officers with municipal-issued weapons.
Sterns said she checked into what arrangements were to be made for maintenance and care of the weapons.
In another matter, West Penn Chief of Police Brian Johnson said he has prepared a manual of standard operating procedures for his department, which he had reviewed and approved by the Fraternal Order of Police.
The 372-page manual included policies and procedures for reference. "This is like Policework 101," said Johnson. "You can look it up and follow the policy. There is a section just on firearms."
Johnson gave the manual to Sterns for review.
At Johnson's request, the board approved sending officer Melissa Johnson to the Pa. Narcotics Officers Association conference in Hershey from March 25-27. The cost is $358, including association dues.
Officer Jason Lorah will attend classes on advanced latent fingerprint technology in Harrisburg from March 15-17. There is no cost for the class. Lorah will be paid at his regular rate.
In his department's report for February, Chief Johnson said West Penn police answered 263 calls for the month. There were 34 traffic citations and 20 written warnings issued. There were six non-traffic/criminal arrests, including two for littering and one each for DUI, simple assault, giving false ID to police and leaving the scene of an accident.
The township's three police vehicles patrolled a total of 3,644 miles for the month. A total of $615.80 in fines was collected, as well as $120 for an accident/incident report. Officers attended seven court hearings in February.
In other business, the board approved the request of Marlin Zehner of the West Penn Recreation Board for the purchase of mulch for West Penn Park from Mahantongo Enterprises, at the cost of $1,800. $1,206 of those funds will be taken from the land development fund, which has been set to expire in April. The balance will be taken from the Millhead Road subdivision fund.
Under public comment, resident Michael Comisac questioned the board as to the status of litigation by the township that had been erroneously given to township personnel and were not returned.
Akins said the matter is still part of an ongoing court case and that the board is limited in what it can divulge at this point.
"We are still in the process of gathering information," said Sterns. "The board has been given monthly updates in executive session as we obtain information. This is not being swept under the rug."
Comisac also asked about the rights of residents under the Freedom of Information Act in obtaining township documents regarding "the misconduct of previous supervisors."
Sterns said the township has a form available for requesting documents under the Act, and that there are about 20 exceptions as to what cannot be released, such as social security numbers and with ongoing litigation. The township has five days to respond to the requests, she added.
"When it's over, then we should have access to everything," said Comisac.
Sterns said that is technically true, although a judge can order records sealed or settlement agreements might have stipulations. She also mentioned the township did lose documents due to a fire.