- Last Updated on Monday, 18 November 2013 12:02
- Published on Thursday, 14 November 2013 18:27
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At its Nov. 14 special meeting the Colonial Beach Town Council denied attempting to abolish the Colonial Beach police department (CBPD), terming the notion a rumor. Despite audience members who watched or attended previous meetings stating the council was unclear about their intentions, council members continued to deny intentions of looking into abolition of the CBPD.
Colonial Beach Town Council has skirted around the issue of what to do with the CBPD since Oct. 10 council meeting. At that meeting the council had scheduled on their agenda to meet with Westmoreland County Sheriff, C. O. Balderson. Although the agenda did not state the nature of the meeting nor did attendees speaking on the matter offer up the reason, Mayor Mike Ham stated in a phone interview on the following Monday, that a few council members have requested Balderson meet with them in an open meeting to discuss consolidation of the CBPD and the Westmoreland Sheriff's office.
At the Oct. 24 Council cork session, what began with a discussion by Councilman Jim Chiarello, to move the process of hiring a permanent police chief along, turned into a series of disagreements between council members on how or if they should proceed with the hiring process.
On Oct. 24, the issue brought up by some members was that it would be inappropriate to move on with hiring an officer until the town decided what to do with the CBPD. Council members did not say specifically what they were looking into. After several comments by council members Ham addressed the audience to clear up what he called rumors.
Ham said at the Oct. 24 meeting, “From a legal standpoint let me clarify something first. There are rumors everywhere that we, certain people, maybe the whole council, maybe the whole entire town, have asked Sheriff C. O. Balderson to quote, can he take over out police department? or quote can we merge our police department with his? The attorneys will tell you, C. O. Balderson will tell you, neither of those is an option. So right now we need to make a decision whether we want to abolish the police department, we can't just merge it or give it away or say, take it. That's the issue we need to come up to.”
That statement by Ham left press and the public to believe the council was looking into options to abolish the police department. A meeting was ultimately set for Nov. 14 at 9:30 a.m. to hear legal opinion from Town Attorney Andrea Erard. The meeting announcement only said “Discussion of the Colonial Beach Police Department”
At the Nov. 14 meeting the council ultimately denied trying to abolish or merge the CBPD, but did say they were looking at options. The council continued to be vague about "what options" they were exploring. Members of the audience who commented continued to ask the council to be specific. Almost all speakers stated the lack of specificity gave them no choice but to take Ham’s words to heart.
After hearing from several members of the public in support of keeping the CBPD intact, Public Safety Point of Contact, Tommy Edwards made a motion to pass a resolution which states; “The Colonial Beach Town Council supports keeping the Colonial Beach Police Department as an integral part of the team.”
Councilman Jim Chiarello seconded.
Councilman Tim Curtin commented, “I'm struggling to find the words to really...why bother? Ok From the way that key members of this council have flipped their opinion of even having a discussion with the Sheriff, it's not going to happen. The debates been hijacked by rumor mongering and misinformation and outright lies, so why are we even bothering?”
Councilman Edwards replied, “It's very simple; are you for or you against it? State your case, yes or no!”
Curtin said, “I will be abstaining and that is why because I think it's a meaningless vote to...for whatever reason it is.”
All member voted in favor of the resolution and Curtin abstained.
For full detailed comments from the Council and the public see the Nov. 20 edition of The Journal.