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Borough begins rebuilding police department

| Thursday, May 10, 2012, 6:19 p.m.

One week after firing Chief Shannon Wintruba, who had been absent for three months, Derry Borough Council began mapping the future of its police department Monday.

Council quickly dismissed a motion that would have allowed borough residents to decide whether they want to disband the police department.

"I look at this police department as a privilege we have in this town," Councilman Stephen Kozar said, before voting against the referendum.

Councilwoman Lois Lazarchik cast the lone vote for the referendum, citing problems with Wintruba and other past officers, as well as the cost of maintaining a police force.

Council will now have to decide how to fill the position left open by Wintruba, who ignored council's calls while she was off work with a back injury.

Council voted last night to advertise for part-time officers, and President Todd Krehlik said the police committee will review applicants and then decide on the best way to reorganize the force.

Council also announced a one-year pilot program that would have the department perform routine patrols and respond to calls at all Derry Area School District buildings. State police currently respond to calls at the schools, which are in Derry Township.

Randy Glick, temporary officer in charge of the department, said the plan is a sign of things to come.

"I think, with the adding of the school district, it's a clear sign that the department's moving on," he said. "We're looking at bigger and better issues. We want to offer the Derry area a safer community."

Both Krehlik and Glick said putting officers in the schools will give the department an opportunity to get to know Derry's youth.

"We're going to work together with the school as a liaison between the Derry community and the school community," Glick said.

He also noted that the district and the borough could agree to add educational programs, such as D.A.R.E., after the one-year trial period.

And "this is just a beginning," Glick said.

He said the police department could begin providing services to area businesses, or maybe even Derry Township.

Glick said township residents will see borough police officers as they head toward the schools, and "they may like the idea of a police car going through their neighborhood."

He was hopeful that Derry Township supervisors eventually would warm to the idea of using a local police department instead of state police.

"If we can get our ducks in a row and present a strong front, there may be some interest down the road," Glick said.

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