SALISBURY TOWNSHIP BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
Salisbury Police Chief Allen W. Stiles and Sgt. Donald Sabo Jr. presented the Salisbury Township Police Department 2018 budget at the township workshop Nov. 9.
The police department is requesting to add a detective to the rank of personnel covering the township.
Currently the department has one chief, one sergeant who is a patrol commander, one sergeant who is responsible for training and administration, one sergeant responsible for investigations and special services, one detective, four corporals, one school resource officer, one traffic officer and eight patrolmen.
Of that number, the traffic officer is currently reassigned to patrol following the resignation of a patrolman. There are currently 19 in the department.
Stiles listed the accomplishments of the police department including a successful school resource officer program, addition of fire inspectors and the implementation of active shooter training for school district personnel.
Salisbury Township Police Department was the first in Lehigh County in which Narcan was used to reverse a heroin overdose in 2016. The department received an award at the state capital for its efforts.
Other programs include Cops ‘n’ Kids, Coffee with a Cop, National Night Out, basketball game with Salisbury Youth Association, attendance at car shows and fire department community days and an active engagement with the community via Facebook and Nextdoor.com.
Stiles said since 1995, the department has received $1,884,464 in grants. Fire inspectors have brought in $17,700 and traffic fines have brought in $60,000 to the township.
“As of Oct. 31, the police department has responded to 8,000 calls this year,” Stiles said.
Stiles recounted the day the department experienced Nov. 7 when Pa. State Police Trooper Cpl. Seth Kelly, 39, was shot during a traffic stop on Route 33 in Plainfield Township.
“The Pennsylvania State Police immediately released the license plate of the suspect which Salisbury Township Police Department personnel put into the license plate reader system. Police vehicles were then set up along Interstate 78 looking for the vehicle,” Stiles said.
Stiles said the suspect was transported to Lehigh Valley Health Network - Cedar Crest. Prior to the arrival, the chief, sergeants and officers stood by to make sure the suspect got in quickly when the state police arrived. Salisbury police were at the hospital to handle family members arriving for the suspect. Salisbury police transported the District Judge to the hospital to arraign the suspect.
Following the activity at the hospital, a call was received of a suspected gunshot wound on Seidersville Road. Once that cleared, the police were called to BonTon at the South Mall for retail theft. Both suspects were taken into custody.
Following that call, a stabbing victim was brought into the Lehigh Valley Hospital Trauma Center which prompted another police response to the hospital.
“The Lehigh Valley is getting more and more violent every day,” Stiles said.
Stiles said recently he has had an officer at the hospital 12 hours a day assigned to the emergency room and trauma department because there have been so many issues. With the number of Allentown shooting victims coming to the hospital, the Salisbury police are needed to provide security and help gather information before the other police departments arrive.
“We don’t do it unless we have enough staff,” Stiles said. Commissioners were assured the hospital is billed for overtime and benefits for the police staff on site.
Sabo explained the need for an additional detective, originally requested in 2015, is the result of an increase in criminal investigations, unfunded mandates, an increase in reporting and background checks for clearances, state police validations and various audits.
Sabo said surrounding police departments have more than one detective and yet Salisbury is doing the best they can with one detective.
The goal is to shift one officer to the position of detective. That will leave an additional opening for a replacement.
“During a time of high violence, civil unrest and assaults on the Lehigh Valley, we need to reevaluate our goals,” Sabo said. “Do we decrease service when we have an increase in demand for calls, active shooter drills, community involvement, public relations and critical infrastructures to adequately protect?”
Sabo asked the commissioners what they would like to see cut, whether it be traffic enforcement, the K-9 program, school resource officer or community policing but said operations cannot continue as they are now with all of the additional reporting and a major trauma center in the township.
Sabo said a .075 mill tax increase would generate $100,000 to cover the cost. The average home assessed at $234,000 would see a $17.55 per year increase, or less than $1.46 per month.
The proposed 2018 Salisbury Township budget was expected to be read publicly at the 7 p.m. Nov. 21 board of commissioners’ meeting, after which a copy of the budget will be available to the public at the township municipal building during regular business hours and on the township website.
The board is expected to vote on the final budget and approval of the tax rate ordinance at its 7 p.m. Dec. 28 meeting.