Chief Paul Yost of the Buffalo Valley Regional Police Department said patrol officers will be monitoring local government buildings in the Lewisburg area on Jan. 20, the day of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“We have no substantiated threats of any kind regarding disruption of local government,” Yost said during Wednesday’s regular meeting of the Buffalo Valley Regional Police Commission.
Yost said the department didn’t receive any communications specific to threats in the Valley but did receive memos from the FBI and state regarding potentially armed protests at state capitol buildings. The Union County Sheriff’s Office oversees security at county-owned properties. Local government properties would fall under the jurisdiction of respective law enforcement agencies.
Janice Butler, who organized an online police forum with the department last year, asked if existing policies cover potential consequences should officers engage in violent acts or support terror organizations, a reference to last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol. Yost replied that there are policies in place to handle such instances.
Butler said she reviewed the application for new police officers and credited the department for including questions about potential hate groups as part of the screening process.
During Butler’s questions and comments, Yost also replied that a plan is in place with both Geisinger and Evangelical Community Hospital to allow officers to receive a COVID-19 vaccination should they choose.
Yost acknowledged the death of Middleburg Police Chief Tony Jordan. Two Buffalo Valley officers joined a procession Wednesday escorting Jordan’s body from the Lewistown Hospital and back to Snyder County. Jordan hosted local police officers for firearms training on his land.
“I’ve known Tony for many years,” Yost said. “He’ll be sorely missed by that community. He was a mainstay over there.”
Commission Solicitor Brian Kerstetter, who worked with Jordan through the Snyder County District Attorney’s Office, said he would share the commission’s condolences with members of the Middleburg police force.
Commission members voted to elect Jack Malloy as board chair, Jordi Comas as vice chair, Judy Wagner as secretary and Char Gray as treasurer. Matt Schumacher is the fifth member of the board.
Malloy, Gray and Schumacher represent East Buffalo Township. The latter two members are township supervisors. Wagner, Lewisburg mayor, and Comas, Lewisburg council member, represent Lewisburg in the municipal police partnership.
The commission on a 4-1 vote passed a motion changing the department budget to reflect East Buffalo Township’s specific request of 25.51 police protection units — which are used to measure police officer’s work in the respective municipalities. That’s just shy of 51% of available PPUs. Lewisburg will be budgeted for 48%. The remaining 1% isn’t dispersed in the budget.
Budgeted PPUs might not reflect actual PPUs tabulated at year’s end. For example, East Buffalo Township came in under its request in 2020 when 24.3 PPUs were used in the township.
Comas voted against the measure.
In November when Lewisburg representatives had the 3-member majority — it rotates annually — a vote passed 3-2 to adjust the budget to reflect a percentage split of 52-48 with the township responsible for the greater amount.
The police funding issue is what led Lewisburg to file suit against East Buffalo Township and the commission. The lawsuit is pending in Union County Court.
Yost said he was stuck “in the middle again,” noting that since East Buffalo Township hadn’t voted to authorize the budget, the department is currently working on the 2020 version until the 2021 version is approved by the township as the borough had done.