By Jason Cohen
Say goodbye to the Chester Borough Police Department. On Jan. 1, The Chester Borough Police and The Chester Township Police Department became The Chester Police Department.
The township and the borough reached an inter-local service agreement on Dec. 20 where the township would provide police services to the borough.
Chester Borough Mayor Janet Hoven stressed that this was not a merger of police departments. Hoven noted that the agreement had unanimous support from both the borough and township.
“The borough was not in a position where it could provide adequate coverage for the borough,” Hoven said. Hoven noted that all of the officers in the township are EMT trained and now the borough will be as well.
The Chester Police Department has 22 officers. The agreement is good until Dec. 31, 2027 and at its expiration will be renewed at five-year increments.
In the beginning of 2016, the borough had eight officers, but in August, Police Chief Dave Jara resigned after serving 15 years on the force. This surprising move left a hole in the department. Another officer also left in July.
Therefore, looking to save money, the borough entered into a temporary shared services agreement with Chester Township on Aug. 22 to provide night time police services to Chester Borough.
Chester Police Chief Thomas Williver explained this was followed by further discussions about how to best utilize the two departments. He told the “Black River News” that the borough often used township officers or those from surrounding towns as backup and this is not good if people are in trouble.
“This was a major officer safety issue to the officers,” Williver said.
Williver feels this is the best option for everyone. The township and the borough already have one volunteer fire department, one volunteer first aid squad and now will have one police department.
“Now the officers will have additional back up from their own department when needed,” the chief said. “The residents and businesses of the borough will now have greater police resources and manpower to assist them should the need arise. The officers see the benefits of having a larger department and the potential for advancement in the future.”
The agreement will save the borough $200,000 annually and will also make the township money. The borough will pay the township $1,125.240 for the first year of the agreement. For 2018 and after, the base service fee will increase per the same percentage of the overall budget of the Chester Police Department increases, provided that if portions of the budget increase relate to improvements required for the township, these costs will be excluded from the base fee.
As of March 1, the non-emergency phone number, 908-879-5626, for The Chester Borough Police Department will no longer be operational. This number will be forwarded to The Chester Police Department until that date. If you are a resident or business in Chester Borough and have a home security monitoring or medical alert system, please notify them of the phone number change. The non-emergency phone number for The Chester Police Department is (908)-879-5514. For emergencies, dial 9-1-1.