A regional police study that will consider a merger between the Hellertown and Lower Saucon Township police departments is currently under way, Hellertown borough councilwoman Gail Nolf announced at council's Nov. 21 meeting.
The study is being funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), with DCED local government policy specialist Ron Stern serving as consultant, it was announced at a Lower Saucon Township Council meeting earlier this month.
At that meeting, Lower Saucon Township Manager Jack Cahalan said former Towamencin Township, Montgomery County police chief Joseph Kirschner is leading the study, which is not the first to consider a merger between the two Saucon Valley forces.
Nolf, who was present at a kick-off meeting for the current study, said she is confident that issues related to a possible merger will be considered objectively and that a "clean study" will be conducted.
"The two gentlemen (from the state) came in with a very positive attitude," she said, adding that they intend to examine the logistics of a merger and so-called "soft costs" related to merging the two independent departments into one.
"I felt that it was a good meeting. I felt that a lot of information was shared," Nolf said. "Everyone had an opportunity to lay their concerns on the table."
In the coming weeks, borough council members, township and borough police officers, and chiefs Guy Lesser (Lower Saucon) and Robert Shupp (Hellertown) will be interviewed, she added.
Shupp said that council members should be cognizant of the fact that the study will not delve into the minutiae related to a merger.
Determining things such as coverage zones and shifts would ultimately be the responsibility of committees formed by Lower Saucon Township and Hellertown Borough councils, after the study is completed, he said.
"I think the study is a good thing," Shupp emphasized. "But just so you know when you get this study, it's a long road."
Nolf said the study is expected to be concluded in February.
"We're interested in maintaining a certain level of coverage in Hellertown," she said.