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March 16, 1998
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August 13, 1997
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Discussion - Charlestown Police Force
Discussions of whether or not we should have our own police have appeared in the minutes of the Board of Supervisors off and on over many years. This page has been set up (Feb. 6, 2006) as a page on which I will post comments received from Township residents regarding whether or not Charlestown Township should have its own police force. You must identify yourself and indicate that you are a resident of Charlestown Township. I take no responsibility for the accuracy of any statements of fact included in comments. As usual, if you wish to submit a comment for this page, please stick to the issue, and do not level criticism at those with whom you might disagree or with those elected officials who govern our township. Also, I will not post comments containing quotes of other individuals. Send comments from here or direct email to email@example.com . The most recent comments will be posted at the top of the page indicating the date posted.
02/28/06 - Jim McGinty - March 27th, according to State Trooper Matt Carr, the station commander of the Embreeville barracks along with two other State Police representatives will attend the Charlestown Township supervisors meeting. They will be giving a report on activity in the township and State Police involvements. Like many other Charlestown TWP tax payers, I welcome their continued support and excellent vigilance of our community. The State Police is a much more professional and capable police force than what we could borrow from another adjacent township or try to home grow on our own. For those who doubt this, show up, participate, ask questions, and get the facts right from the experts themselves.
02/27/06 Kathy Bellan - I would like to add my thoughts to the subject of Charlestown township having their own police force. While overall I believe it is important to have police nearby in case of emergencies, my main concern is and always has been, higher taxes. I think in general Charlestown Township has many wealthy people. On the other hand, many residents in my development (Charlestown Hunt) are not wealthy. I live in a townhouse, have only one income, and have been hit with many many increases in cost of living, etc. I simply can't afford the higher taxes which will surely follow if we get our own police department.
02/21/06 Harry Burhans - When illicit drugs were expensive and hard to find there was a rash of house break-ins in Charlestown. My home and the home of a nearby neighbor were hit the same day while we were at work. Thanks to the rapid response and good detective work of our State Police the three teenagers were locked up six days later. They had been under surveillance but the police had insufficient evidence to pick them up. This time they got good finger prints. All three were on $75 a day habits. The 18 year old served time in Camp Hill Prison, the younger boys were put on probation. The judge ordered restitution. My insurance company settled my claim but unfortunately did not pursue restitution. I installed a security system and shortly thereafter there was another break-in attempt but the blast from my siren alarm blew the culprit away before the police arrived.
In Delaware each city has a police force but the suburbs / rural areas are covered by the County Police, a very efficient system. For each little community to be burdened with their own little police force is very inefficient. Let's not fall into that trap.
02/19/06 Alix Coleman - Last summer I happened to have dinner with friends and two of the people were township supervisors for a township that is west of here. At one point their conversation really caught my attention when they started talking about the fact that having their own police was so much more expensive than they ever thought and it was clearly sucking the coffers of the township dry. When I spoke up and said I lived in a Township that didn't have their own police force both men turned to me and said please take our advice and don't get your own. The one man said "having your own police force is like having a great big hole in the ground into which you throw money". I think of those words now with all this discussion.
02/18/06 Bob Jones - In most communities like ours the police answer calls for crimes already committed. Not having a "cop" around when you need one is generally always true. Its not that they are bad but its impossible to gauge where the culprits will be.
Fred Alston mentioned to me last night how important the reporting process to the state police is. When the police come on the scene they hit a gps device to mark the location. These events can then be used to highlight certain areas for higher scrutiny by the state police.
Better management of our existing program will improve the protection of our existing police.
We pay 0 dollars for State Police protection. Our own force would cost millions of dollars over the next few years.
Maybe it would help to form a committee of residents to examine our needs as a township based on our existing crime waves and then compare it to the neighbors who have their own statistics on their own crime waves. Then examine the costs involved and afterward prepare a presentation to present to the Board of Supervisors as a recommendation.
02/18/06 Gene Mitchell - I believe Charlestown is long overdue for police protection. Many things have happened over the years that warrant it. A contract with one of the nearby Townships or even the State Police as outlined a few years ago would be more preferable than having our own separate force.
Valley Hill Road, being on the border, is a place that teens tend to hang out on and drink because they know there is no police protection. In addition, there are several cars that pay no attention to the traffic light at 401 and Valley Hill and will proceed across or left on red, knowing that there is no police force. They are usually the same who don't stop at the stop signs for the same reason.
02/18/06 Paul Hogan (Supervisor) - Whatever happened to the local teenage rioters who destroyed a home with more than $180,000 in damage? That was a few years ago. They were caught and to my knowledge they all went scott free. The home owner had no insurance at the exact moment of the destruction so she was stuck and the teenagers had a laugh. Perhaps we need more lawyers to make sure the miscreants actually are punished for their crimes. Nowadays, if their kids are caught parents call their lawyer first.
I don't think it's out-of-town idiots who destroy our safety signs with graffiti!
02/17/06 David Wislowski - Hello, I am writing today about the article I read in the Daily Local News concerning whether or not Charlestown Township should have its own police department or not. I would be in favor of the township having its own police department. Being a college graduate possessing a degree in criminal justice and being born and raised in the township I think it would be a wonderful opportunity for people like myself who are looking for a career in law enforcement and who live in the area to be able to work in the township as a police officer. Currently the Pennsylvania State Police Embreeville barracks patrol the township as well as various other locations within the county that also do not have their own police departments. Being that the state police already cover a large portion of the county, a trooper is not always available to respond and instead a neighboring police department such as Schuylkill Township or East Pikeland Township usually responds. I feel that as the population in the area grows and the township continues to use the state police to patrol the township it will only put further strain on their department. Thank you for your time.
02/17/06 Kevin Kuhn - Lisa, I believe you are under the impression that the reason we are meeting with the State Police is to determine if Charlestown needs to change our policing policy. This is not the case. The State Police meet with the Township on a regular basis to update the Board of Supervisor's as well as any interested residents on their activity in the Township as well as to review Township crime incidents, make recommendations and answer residents questions. If the Board, after careful review of the facts, determines that alternative methods of policing need to be explored we will do so. Kevin
02/17/06 - Lisa Scottoline - It is my understanding that every township surrounding Charlestown Township has its own local police force or contracts out for one, and, if we are going to examine whether we need a local police force, and the supervisors intend to hold a meeting to which state police are invited to explain their function,it is only fair and useful that representatives of local police forces be invited as well. That way, we, as residents, will be provided with a complete picture and will understand what local police can do for us. For example, a recent article in The Phoenix makes clear that East Bradford contracts with the West Chester police for protection and services, and for a flat fee they get all police services from patrol officers, their own 911 dispatch system,criminal investigation unit, and a juvenile unit.Most importantly, East Bradford gets a full-time patrol officer in the township, dedicated only to the township, 24-7.The article quotes West Chester Police Chief Scott Boons, who says that all parties are very satisfied with the arrangement, so much so that they are increasing the number of patrol officers from one to two. Chief Boons also makes clear that the cost is a fraction of what it would be to start a police force. A full picture would make clear that state and local police are intended to perform, and do perform,very different functions. No one expects the state police to patrol us, 24-7, and they currently do not. I think we must have Chief Boons and others like him at our meeting, so we can have the benefit of their wisdom and experience, and ultimately make the decision for ourselves.
02/14/06 - Andy Motel (resident and Planning Commission member) - Please consider the following to be my impressions alone, and not the opinion of any other member of the Planning Commission.
The debate over whether or not to establish a local police force is not new. To my recollection this last arose in 2003 in planning for the inevitable development of Devault. The PC considered various uses (office, residential, mixed use) and the impact each would have on services including police, schools, sewer, etc.
As it turned out, I concluded our debate had started out based on several incorrect assumptions.
We first assumed the existence of an objectively determinable moment in time -- "a tipping point" when a local police force would be necessary. This was based on two other erroneous assumptions:
So, leaving these assumptions unchallenged (see below), we set out to find the "tipping point" and made inquiries with other municipalities about their experience with the issue.
- Sooner or later, the State Police will prove inadequate to the task of policing Charlestown;
- As our population grows, the State Police will inevitably tell us we must have our own police force.
I hoped to discover a formula that accounted for population, crime, call frequency, response times -- and for the Planning Commission's work -- a rating of the "police neediness" of development types relative to one another.
The search for a formula proved fruitless.
We discovered municipalities made the decision to establish a local force largely by interpreting anecdotal data or following "incidents" or a perceived crime wave. While the "data" was malleable, the enormity of the burden assumed by municipalities that formed a police force was anything but hypothetical.
The capital or "start-up cost" including a building, communications equipment, cars and so on, could easily exceed a $1,000,000 followed by the perpetual cost of salaries, benefits, supervision, training and premiums for worker's compensation and liability insurance. Some municipalities commented on the added cost of equipment and training mandated by regulations passed in the wake of 9/11 that required the ability to respond to terrorism or large calamities.
Apart from the cost to taxpayers, the day-to-day business of such townships was significantly consumed by management and human resource demands. Supervisors spent their time mediating squabbles and making personnel decisions, with less time, energy or money for other issues, like preservation.
As a member of the Planning Commission for the last 6 years, I have heard various claims by developers regarding the impact of a given development on taxes, traffic, schools and services in general. One claim that fell to analysis was that "the addition of single family homes does not adversely impact the tax structure, and in some cases, is a revenue gain." In recent years, developers have dispensed with this claim because it is laughably false. For every 1$ in tax revenue generated by the single family home, studies demonstrate the services needed for that home cost between $1.12 and $1.20. I see the next argument coming: developers asserting that the impact of development will be lessened because we have a local police force. Cascading down this same slippery slope are many other rationalizations. For example, that allowing more commercial development will generate the tax revenue a police department requires, thus "minimizing" the burden on residents. Thus it will be a fiscal snow ball rolling down an endless hillside. I can also foresee debates each year at budget time to the effect that "Charlestown's police department needs whatever equipment or personnel neighboring force possess." Thus, Charlestown will increase spending to "keep up with the Tredyffrins."
We learned that the burden of a local police force cannot be overstated. However, in the process of answering these questions we re-examined the underlying assumptions -- and they collapsed.
Assumption: Sooner or later, the State Police will prove inadequate to the task of policing Charlestown.
In part, this assumption rests on a belief the State Police are undermanned. This is untrue according to feedback from the Embreville Barracks that serves Charlestown. The State Police (and this is admittedly anecdotal) are pleased to patrol Charlestown and if increased patrols are required, more will be supplied. At present, call volumes are adequately handled. Some residents have had a different experience but is it any different for those who live in East Whiteland, Uwchlan, West Pikeland or Tredyffrin where a local force exists?
Perhaps behind this assumption is the notion that the State Police are "country police" better suited to rural areas and "out of its league" on the streets of Charlestown. This seems baseless. The State Police are well-trained and highly qualified and certainly the equal of any local police force. Consider the praise of President Theodore Roosevelt quoted on the State Police web site:
The Pennsylvania State Police is a model of efficiency, a model of honesty, a model of absolute freedom from political contamination. One of the great difficulties in our large States has been to secure an efficient policing of the rural sections. In communities where there are still frontier conditions, such as Texas and Arizona, the need has been partially met by establishing bodies of rangers; but there is no other body so emphatically efficient for modern needs as the Pennsylvania State Police. I have seen them at work. I know personally number of men in ranks. I know some of the officers. I feel so strongly about them that the mere fact a man is honorably discharged from this Force would make me at once, and without hesitation, employ him for any purpose needing courage, prowess, good judgment, loyalty, and entire trustworthiness. This is a good deal to say of any organization, and I say it without qualification of the Pennsylvania Police.
We are fortunate indeed to have the State Police watching out for us in Charlestown, and financially far better off.
Assumption: As our population grows, the State Police will inevitably tell us we must have our own police force.
The State Police reassure us it is here to stay. The PSP serves first responder in municipalities with far greater population than Charlestown's current 4,200. For example, the PSP patrols Middletown Township in Delaware County which by 2004 had more than 14,000 residents. Middletown is also the home of Routes 1 & 352 and the entire Granite Run Mall complex. While the Barracks is located in the Township at Lima, that barracks is responsible for an area far beyond Middletown including Pennsbury, Chadd's Ford, Concord, Edgemont, Thornbury and Bethel Townships, the Blue Route from I-95 to The Schuylkill Expressway and I-95 from Philadelphia to the Delaware line.
The presence of a local police force will not eliminate crime but will most assuredly and markedly, increase taxes. The emotional response to the hay fires must run its course. The fires were probably set and while this is a crime it is not something we can solve or prevent by a massive and permanent overhaul of our Township finances, structure, priorities and direction.
I cannot fathom advocating for a tripling of our Township taxes based on a hunch we are inadequately protected by the State Police and more vulnerable than we would be with a local force, as if crime would no longer occur or would be stamped out instantaneously by the omnipresent local officer. Let us solidify our relationship with the State Police and if additional patrols are needed, secure them and wisely recognize the exemplary protection we have in the State Police. We should resist a most unnecessary course that will have dramatic and permanent consequences.
02/13/06 - Kevin Kuhn (Chairman, Board of Supervisors) - The hay fire which occurred this past weekend like the one that occurred on Wells Road last week is currently under investigation by Trooper John J. Clifford of the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal Unit. Trooper Clifford can be reached at 484-340-3643 if anyone has any information regarding these events. Because this is an ongoing investigation the Board of Supervisor's is not speculating or commenting until we have a report and to do otherwise would be reckless. Contrary to Ms. Scottoline's accusations the last fire was announced at the first Board of Supervisor's public meeting following the fire however the Board of Supervisor's have not met since the fire that occurred early Saturday morning. We do however wish to thank all the volunteers who had a sleepless night while protecting our Township.
02/13/06 (5 pm) Tom Baldwin - I personally don't know whether we need a police presence in the township or not. Other than mailbox vandals, I have not witnessed any crime. I would not be opposed to one but I wouldn't want one dime ear marked for open space acquisition be re-directed to pay for police. We would have to understand the cost for police officers and find a way to fund it. Has anyone looked at what is happening in the Downingtown school district? After just building a monstrous 2nd high school 5 years ago, the Downingtown school board is on the hunt for 100 acres to build a third high school and middle school. They have not been proactive in preserving open space and the area is simply exploding. Not my cup of tea. My parents moved to Bodine Rd in 1948 and I have lived on Green Lane since 1993. I have seen more development in the Township in the last 5 years then the 40 years before it.
I have a friend that is an officer on the West Pikeland force. Currently they have 4 full time and 5 part time police officers. In order to cover Charlestown, he estimates 2 more full time police added to the West Whiteland force. He estimates $125,000 as a loaded rate for officer, benefits and squad car. There is nothing new in this arrangement. East Goshen covers Westtown and Thornberry Townships now. So figure on $250,000 for starters. Do we want police and how would we pay for them?
02/13/06 - Lisa Scottoline - Residents should be aware that there was a second hay fire, on Saturday morning, in Charlestown Township. I wish I had more details, but our Supervisors have chosen not to inform us about this second threat to life and limb, but to keep that crucial information to themselves. We are in dire need of a police force, and this is yet another example why. We do not need to raise taxes to get a police force or even to share one with another townships. We must prioritize with the way we spend taxpayer money. We should stop spending money on development rights, like the two million dollars we just spent on to buy the development rights from the Stonorovs, and spend it on protecting all of us from crime as the township grows, and establishing Charlestown as a safe and lawful place to live.
02/13/06 - Jim McGinty - I do not believe creating our own police department along with all the infrastructure, salaries, benefits, pensions, and related bureaucracy departments is really what residents want. Obviously it is only going to produce more taxes. And like other residents that have already expressed similar comments, there is no reason to believe more police is going to mean less vandalism or less crime...having said that, does Charlestown really have a serious crime problem?
In our Charlestown Hunt Community we have a "Town Watch" which we feel does help deter and or keep another eye on things. Vandalism is usually done by local and/or neighborhood kids-teens-young adults. Who is better at finding out "who's doing it" than their own peer group where one can get feedback on the source.
02/13/06 - Harry Burhans - Before beating the drums for a police force and attendant big tax increase please consider the plight of our seniors living on fixed income. Since retiring in 1982 my taxes [township,county and school] have increased by a factor of 2.5 while my pension has remained the same. I have lived here for 44 years. I have seen a small amount of crime but I still feel safe. We do not need a police force.
02/10/06 - John and Deborah Hausladen - During the past month our lovely country road has had mailboxes smashed to pieces off of their posts, graffiti on the road signs, beer bottles strewn along the road, and now a hay fire. While the first three acts are common occurrences throughout our township, we do not have to accept this. Nor, do we have to accept the speeding cars that cut through our windy roads. From what we observe, a message is not being sent, through police presence, to deter these acts. Which, in our opinion, is why speeders continue to speed and mailboxes continue to be ruined, not to mention the horrific hay fire. Taxpayer money is spent on restoring buildings for a nice look, but how does the graffiti look in close proximity?
We may have to admit that things are changing and with that change brings challenges to our township. It is the responsibility of the Board of Supervisors to hear our concerns and conduct an unbiased evaluation of our current police coverage and explore solutions. This is a pressing priority - one greater than the Official Map.
In the meantime,we feel it is also the responsibility of the Board of Supervisors, and the State Police to "get tough" - go public with the newspapers and put out a message that this will not be tolerated. IF the hay fire is being investigated as a criminal activity, then put up a reward and send your message. Show a presence.
02/10/06 - Ellen Behrle - I am thrilled that so many people have used this opportunity to comment on an issue in this township. For many years I have attended bi-monthly township meetings and not seen more than the same dozen faces over and over.
At least one time each year the state police come to the supervisor meeting to give a report on how many calls they have responded to over the year. They give all the details. Friends, that is when the facts come out as to the crime or lack of it in our township, in graphic detail. I can tell you every time I have sat through those meetings I have been pleasantly surprised at how much we do not have a crime problem in this township. And based on the info I have received right from the horses mouth (state police representatives) I do not believe there is a dire need to triple our local real estate taxes and put on a paid police force.
Facts: Right now our township budget is over $1,000,000. annually. Our real estate taxes generate about 1/3 of our annual budget leaving a shortfall of about $600,000. covered by other income. I think we can all do the math. To have a police force, own fire dept. you need a township building, infrastructure, cars, equipment, etc. Sounds like another $1,000,000. to me. If our real estate taxes bring in $400,000. annually now, that means tripling our tax bill each year since what we generate currently at .75 mills already funds a portion of the budget which does not already include these services. We all just got our local tax bill, on an average lets say $200.00. To fund another million dollars that $200.00 bill will be $600.00. Those who pay $1,200. for local taxes, and there are some, try $3,600.00 annually.
Bottom line, we all want to feel protected. We want out children to grow up safe in their own community. I have sat through the state police meetings. Yes, our community is changing and yes, we do have vandalism and some crime. Does the extent of it justify tripling our local real estate bills? Not in my opinion and that is not because I can't afford to pay the triple bill. Fortunately I can however I know that there are some who can't and why should we force them to unless it is necessary.
Someone commented that we need to react to the facts. I so agree. Although I do not always agree with our supervisors especially on our burning ordinance, I have been to enough of those state police meetings to tell you that the board has been reacting to the facts. The reports have yet to show the need for a paid police force. That doesn't mean that nothing ever happens here in Charlestown but I have seen no evidence of the need for such an expensive undertaking as paid, township police and fire. When the time comes that this township has changed to the point that the crime is on the rise then, I agree, we will have to "suck it up" and pay the freight for whatever it takes to provide protection. Until then, volunteer for townwatch and be a good neighbor.
I am sure the state police meeting is coming up. It usually is in the beginning of the year. Go to the supervisors meeting and get the facts and ask questions.
02/08/06 - Stephanie Flett - In the end, it is balance we should strive for. A township with abundant open space is not desirable if there is a high volume of crime and vandalism. Farm owners like myself, who have been victimized by senseless vandalism already, will eventually give up and sell if the crime persists and is not attended to. If having a local Police force will limit the crime, then I urge the Supervisors to reconsider and make it happen. If expanding our State Police contract is a viable option and will fulfill the need, then we should look into this as well. Either way, we will need to invest in our safety and balance that investment with the Town desire to secure open space. Both safety and open space are common goals for most of us living in Charlestown, we simply need to be realistic with our approach to how we do this and ensure we invest in both with equal fervor and fairness.
02/08/06 - Wendy McLean - It seems that what we need as a first step is accurate, unbiased information. We need statistics on how many incident reports there have been, both in our own municipality and adjacent municipalities of similar size and character (such as West Pikeland). We need facts about the number of speeding tickets written. The number of man-hours devoted to patrols. The number of traffic accidents on our roads and in other townships. The number of vandalism and burglary reports.
Then we need an honest evaluation of the cost of providing more coverage through various alternatives: more state police presence, a new police department or a contract with one or more of the adjacent municipalities.
The fact is that things have changed and will continue to change. We cannot assume from anecdotal information that a different type of police coverage would be better or worse. What is adequate in one part of the Township may not be adequate elsewhere. It doesn't help current and future residents to bemoan the passing of "the good old days" when the Township had fewer residents. The fact is that we do have more residents and, more important to the traffic safety problem, more cars zooming through the Township to get to the Corporate Center. Limiting development here wont reduce the daily traffic coming through from the north. We cant turn back the clock or assume that the status quo is the best thing anymore than we can take on an increased cost without understanding what it will be and what we will get for it.
The process of gathering and reporting this information should be done in a transparent, objective process, preferably with citizen involvement. To gain public confidence in the accuracy of the information, it is not a process that should be assigned to a single consultant or undertaken by the Supervisors and Township staff acting alone.
This is a decision that is too important to be made based on perception, rumor, fear, partisan politics, past experience or speculation. But it is also a decision that needs to be addressed and not put off any longer.
02/08/06 Ted Winicov -
There is no relationship between the presence of a police department and amount of crime and there is no evidence that the State Police are not effectively handling the limited needs of Charlestown or that a Township department could do any better.
02/07/06 Chuck and Roslyn Epstein - We need a police presence in Charlestown Township. Recently, we were hit by a running buck across from the elementary school. Our car was smashed (we were ok) and the deer, thankfully died on impact.It took the state police 25 minutes to show up. We need our own Police.
If Charlestown had it's own police and people knew we had one:
As our population has increased, it is time to have our township deliver a service that we all need. It is time for our tax dollars to be spent for the greater good. For the SAFETY and the SECURITY of our Homes, our Land and our Community...we need a Charlestown Police Force.
- response time to any emergency would be faster
- cars would slow down on our dangerous roads
- hunting postings would be enforced
- someone would be there to investigate gunfire outside of hunting season
- vandalism to property would decrease (how many mailbox smashing's are we willing to put up with)
02/07/06 Fire Chief Charles Fields - I would like to take a moment & clarify exactly what was said at the hay bales fire on Monday morning. This fire is being investigated as a "suspicious" fire. Due to the suspicious nature of the fire, I requested the State police Fire Marshals office notified. This is standard procedure for an undetermined type fire. I have not made any official determination of the exact cause on this fire. Although there has been some other misc reported suspicious/criminal activity in the area according to neighbors, I do not have first hand knowledge of such.
I am not a Charlestown Twp resident, so I do not wish to end up tied up in the political battles involving a municipal police dept. I service every resident to the best of my ability as a Fire Chief & try to make each of you proud of your local Fire Department and it's volunteers. Your local volunteers worked extremely hard under my command for over 15 hours Monday. Something that "we" should all be proud of. Whatever the cause is, the fire was extinguished without injury to anyone or any additional loss. We should hope this is an isolated incident.
I hope this helps Clarify my statements. Next time you are looking for a quote for this site.... ask for it upfront.
02/07/06 Jerry Moore - Hopefully the culprits of the hay fire will be caught or at least come to understand how destructive their act was and could have been. I think this discussion page is a great idea and can help all of us better understand this issue and what our neighbors have gone through. As for me and my family, I can honestly say that no criminal activity of note has impacted us. We have had our mailbox beat up once or twice, (why this is entertainment to some of our youngsters is beyond my comprehension), but otherwise we really have been fortunate. Last month a deer was severely wounded in front of our house and was lying in the middle of the road. We called the state police and they responded very rapidly and handled the situation.
I believe that state police are very professional and my initial thoughts are that a local police force could not achieve this level of professionalism without exorbitant costs to the taxpayer. Perhaps we could contract out more services from the state police or another township's police department during times when our supervisors feel there is the need for more protection. My feelings are that our crime rate is very low but I am anxious to hear other thoughts on the matter.
02/07/06 from Andrew Armstrong - My family has been living in Charlestown Township for 42 years and I have recently moved back to the township after purchasing a portion of my family's property which is deed restricted from further development.
The population growth of the township is astounding since I lived here in the 70s which I suppose was inevitable. And I submit that with all this growth, local police protection is also inevitable and unfortunately necessary due the fact that we no longer live in a true country side.
Had more property owners in the past had the foresight to restrict the development of their properties, then perhaps the occasional visit from the state police would be sufficient protection, as it has been for many decades.
02/07/06 from Ellen Behrle - My husband and I moved to Charlestown Township 18 years ago from Lansdowne, Delaware County, located 6 miles outside the city limits of Philadelphia. Our house was one and one-half blocks from both the police station and the fire station. I grew up in that house and can honestly say that there was not a time that I looked out the front window and didn't see a police car pass by. Even though that was the case, it did not prevent the older woman who lived across the street from being raped, the man at the corner from being knocked down and assaulted on the front sidewalk in broad daylight and the small 3 unit apartment building, caddy-corner from my house, from burning down to the ground. Like I said, we were so close to the fire station that they could have smelled the smoke from that fire and the building still burned down to the ground. I think we all know that having a police presence is not a guarantee that there will be no crime and that the guarantee that our fires will not be catastrophic is not to have our own municipal fire department.
For many years (over 25) we have had a great Town Watch. An organization made up of many dedicated people, neighbors, who take turns riding through the township, making a presence. Unfortunately, the number of volunteers have dwindled over the years. Charlestown's Town Watch has always been looked upon with great admiration by the adjoining municipalities because of its positive presence. I bet if we compared crime statistics between Charlestown over the past 10 years without a police force and Phoenixville with a police force we might be pleasantly surprised.
Town Watch does make a difference. The organization is in need of both volunteers to patrol and leadership. Any takers??? Please phone the township office at 610-240-0326 and I am sure Linda will put you in touch. Charlestown Hunt has there own Town Watch within their community. It does work and it is less costly than an increase in local real estate taxes to cover the costs of police and fire.
We came to Charlestown because of all the "grass root" things that Charlestown was all about. Town Watch is a perfect example of "neighbor helping neighbor". Having a paid police force and fire department would certainly change our make-up.
I have been at township meetings were the issue of police was discussed. The numbers of those wanting it did not out way those who voted against it. I will say that the township, with the developments in place and the different mentality of a large body of our residents today versus 18 years ago, has changed. However, our local real estate tax millage is still under 1 mill. It certainly would not be if we went for municipal services and what would we really be gaining? Certainly not a guarantee of no crime or no speeding down Union Hill at bus pick up time or catastrophic fires.
I feel very badly about what happened this morning. It is always very emotional when something like this happens so close to home. However, if this township re-visits the "paid police force" issue I hope it is as a result of its ability to be proactive due to the current needs of our community and not because our residents expect something unrealistic to come out of it.
Neighbors and friends, please consider doing your part on Town Watch. That is something we can all do immediately. Call the township office.
02/06/06 from Lisa Scottoline - Following a large hay fire adjacent to her property on 02/06/06, Lisa Scottoline wrote the following -
We in Charlestown need a police presence, and today's huge and dangerous hay fire, which burns right next door to me and a number of other homes, proves the point. This fire was caused by arson, according to Chief Chuck Fields of the Kimberton Fire Dept., who volunteered to me that this would not have happened if we had a police presence in Charlestown Township. This is only common sense; annoying acts of vandalism, unchecked and unaccounted for, only escalate into dangerous acts of vandalism. Worse, the firefighters didn't discover the fire until it had been burning for quite some time, and it is only sheer luck that someone happened to look out his window at one o'clock in the morning or so, see the fire, and call the fire department. Obviously, if we had even a single policeman patrolling in a cruiser, he would have detected the fire before it became so dangerous. Firefighters were concerned that, in the brisk wind, it could spread to nearby homes and barns while people were sleeping in their beds. My horses graze not thirty feet from where the fire was started, and I even found evidence that vandals entered my tack room in the middle of the night. The destroyed hay belonged to a local framer and cost him thousands of dollars. Fire departments from all of the neighboring townships have been fighting the fire all last night and much of today.
This is directly relevant to our recent discussions regarding the hundreds of thousands of dollars being raised by new taxes, only to be spent to buy development rights, in a wrong-headed and unlawful attempt to preserve open space. Our taxpayer money should be spent first on the basic governmental functions of health, safety, and welfare - by having a police department - than in purchasing million-dollar development rights from the Stonorovs or from other residents whose homes are being placed, against their express wishes, on the proposed Township Map. Governmental priorities should favor human life over aesthetic concerns, and viewsheds don't matter when the house is, quite literally, on fire.
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