During its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 3, the Borough of Bath Council opened the floor to residents wanting to discuss the Citizen’s Police Advisory Panel and the future of the Colonial Regional Police Department in the borough.
This year, the Citizen’s Police Advisory Panel, composed of a diverse group of borough residents, began seeking financial alternatives to the CRPD. Since the process began, the Borough of Bath Council has striven to be as transparent as possible and has welcomed all borough residents to regular monthly meetings to ask questions, voice concerns, and express opinions and ideas. However, very few residents came out to Wednesday’s meeting.
Only Fire Chief Emilio DeNisi took advantage of the courtesy of the floor time council had set aside for residents to discuss CRPD matters.
“I know you guys are in a hard spot,” he told council, adding that the situation is not anything they have created, but something that is due to decisions made and actions taken 15 to 20 years ago, the consequences of which have now been dealt to the current council.
However, DeNisi expressed the hope that, whether the borough opts to continue using CRPD’s services or chooses another police force, local coverage will continue in the borough. For the firefighters, he explained, having local police coverage is a “nice assurance.”
He gave the example of the April 26 motor vehicle accident north of Washington Street. He said three or four CRPD officers were instantly on the scene assisting fire crews and helped pull the injured victim from the crash.
“I do not want to see that vanish,” DeNisi said of the partnership.
The decision will ultimately come down to taxes. The borough is facing a tax increase and Council President Mark Saginario, a member of both the Citizen’s Police Advisory Panel and the Finance Committee, worries that people will stop buying homes in the borough because taxes will be so high. If such an event occurs, Bath may face losing its status as an independent borough.
It is a situation that Mayor Fiorella Mirabito, who worked for the CRPD, finds deeply distressing.
“I have been the CRPD cheerleader,” she told council. “The CRPD is top notch…This bothers me…[But] we have to look ahead,” she continued, “How can we possibly keep increasing taxes like this?”
She stressed that the decision is purely financial and not based on the services of the CRPD. Mayor Mirabito put all other rumors to rest, including the rumor that Bath has already made up its mind as to the future of its police services. Communication is still open, ideas are still being shared, and the council is still looking for input from residents.
“[I am] proud of what the department has become,” she concluded.
Councilman Michael Reph agreed. “Colonial is top notch. If they were not, this would be an easy decision,” he said.
CRPD Chief Roy Seiple, who was in attendance at the meeting, told council that, while he “would not want to be in your position,” the CRPD is the “best bang for your buck.”
He explained that Bath would not be the first municipality to get rid of the CRPD’s services. If municipalities keep pulling out, he fears that officers will not join the force. Jobs will be lost and morale will soon follow.
“Whatever you guys decide,” he said, “we are your police department.”
“[We] want to know what the residents want,” Saginario said.
Residents will have more opportunities to voice what they want in two separate upcoming meetings. The first will take place on May 18 at 6 p.m. at the municipal building. The police panel and the CRPD will hold a discussion and Q and A. Council will join in at 7 p.m.
The second meeting will take place on Saturday, May 20 at 9 a.m. in the Bath Social Hall. All residents of Bath are welcomed to attend the town hall meeting and have their questions answered.
Other news in Bath:
- Over $7,000 was raised during the Paw Park Basket Social.
- There were 25 fire calls in the month of April, with an average response time of four minutes and 47 seconds.
- A total of 57 hours of community service was completed by the 19 volunteers who came out to Bath’s Earth Day “Cleanup in the Park.”
- The 10th season of the Bath Farmers Market will start on Friday, May 19, with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, May 26 at 5:30 p.m.
- The Borough of Bath Council is still seeking applications for junior members. High schoolers interested should write an essay about how they would improve the borough, and submit it to either Mayor Mirabito or Councilwoman Carol Bear-Heckman.
- The Bath Volunteer Fire Department is gearing up for summer by doing pool fills for a suggested donation of $175 for every 5,000 gallons. Residents interested should contact the fire department.