The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Midd-West Region

June 26, 2013

Spring Township supervisors extend shutdown of local police department

BEAVER SPR-INGS — Following an 80-minute closed-door discussion Tuesday night with Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch, the Spring Township supervisors announced they will continue the suspension of all police activities.

Chairman John Kauffman II said the decision will allow the board to “explore all options.” He had to return to the regular board agenda and could not immediately answer additional questions as of deadline.

Piecuch commended the supervisors for dealing with the departmental issue and exploring what type of police department — if any — would best serve the community.

The township suspended its one-man police department, led by Chief Ed Smith in late May, citing problems with video and audio equipment on his patrol car. The $5,000 equipment was installed about two years ago following a flurry of complaints about Smith’s alleged harassment and intimidation of residents.

Smith showed up at Tuesday’s board hearing in full uniform, but left before the supervisors’ closed-door meeting with Piecuch was finished.

He said he has continued to appear at court hearings and is investigating complaints, including reports of a nuisance dog, while the police department operations are suspended and expects to be paid, even though the supervisors said they will not compensate Smith — an hourly employee — during the suspension of the township police department.

“They suspended the police department, not the officer,” Smith said. “I just thought it was no patrols.”

“He is mistaken,” Piecuch said, adding that state police at Selinsgrove are taking over patrols in the township and he has postponed all pending cases in the municipality.

Several people attended the meeting to see how the supervisors would handle the issue.

Hal Reid, a retired local businessman and former Detroit police lieutenant, came out in support of Smith.

“I’ve known this man for 20 years. He’s an upstanding citizen and knows his job,” said Reid, blaming the complaints on a small band of vocal critics. “If they have something to charge him with, let’s see it.”

William Hawk and Richard Shirey Jr. said more than half the town have grievances against Smith for abusing his position.

“Why should we have a police officer that needs to be babysat?” Shirey said, referring to the audio-video equipment installed on the patrol car.

 

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