Chambersburg Borough Council meets tonight to look at the police department, the fire department, and the exploratory committee

August 9 – With the Chambersburg Borough Council heading into a regular meeting this evening at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at 100 South Second Street, Chambersburg, a lot of folks are paying attention to the recommendations of the Exploratory Committee.

But before we get to that, let’s look at the business of the borough.

To see the full agenda, click here: http://www.borough.chambersburg.pa.us/pdf/Public%20Edition%208-9-2021%20Simple%20Agenda.pdf

Allen Coffman, Councilmember for the First Ward, joined Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen on First News this morning to preview the council meeting.

Council will discuss an appointment of an inspector for the Chambersburg Police Department.

Coffman explained, “This has been worked on now for some months to try to find a person to fill that position. That name will be announced and acted on this evening. The starting date for this person will be the 23 of August of this year.”

Coffman couldn’t announce the name today because it’s not official, but it is somebody that is known throughout Franklin County.

Ryan said, “The inspector’s role as I understand it will be focused completely on the cameras? These are for police cameras. That got approved a couple of weeks ago.

Coffman confirmed, “The purpose this will serve will be twofold as I see it right now and that would be to oversee body cameras that are coming here probably September sometime, I believe. And also the accreditation of the police department. This has been worked on for some time. It’s never been completed up until this point. As we know what’s going on throughout police departments throughout the United States, accreditation has become even more important than it was before so that’s one of the things that will be covered by the new inspector.”

Council will also appoint six people on a probationary period for the Fire Department in Chambersburg.

Coffman said, “I don’t know that we’ve ever done that many at one time before.”

Fire fighters have retired, some are probably going to move up in the ranks, so there are a number of vacancies that need to be filled. The appointees will be starting their training in the coming weeks.

Council will also hear the report from Parking, Traffic and Street Light committee.

Also, the gas department, public works and engineering will be presenting their budgets tonight.

Back in April, council appointed a three-member Exploratory Committee to look into the possible need for a nondiscrimination ordinance for the LGBTQ+ community as well as possibly forming a Human Relations Commission in Chambersburg.

To see the committee’s report, click here: https://www.chambersburgpa.gov/pdf/Press%20Release%20-%20Exploratory%20Committee%20Releases%20Final%20Report%20and%20Recommendation%20080621.pdf

Jansen said, “They are going to be discussing setting up the special meeting to consider the recommendations of the exploratory committee, which they released in a press release on Friday. The exploratory committee gave out a recommendation.”

Ryan pointed out, “They brought in a total of two business people over six meetings and the rest of it just seemed very activist based.”

Jansen added, “They didn’t give any examples what is the problem here? We don’t hear anything from business people. What are we trying to solve? I saw nothing in that report that indicates any official or any document or any problems here that they found.”

Coffman said, “I agree. I think that was the first sentence out of mike Ross’s presentation that he made. What is the problem that we’re trying to solve? Steve Christian followed him as I remember it, he was on the same path as well. Mike was very direct about that. What is the problem and what are you trying to solve here? The other thing I thought was interesting, one of the last presenters that was given, he got one sentence in the three-page report, which I thought was really interesting.”

Jansen said, “Mostly what I see is justification of the people who came in and spoke, they were pro and they wanted this to be done, I see a lot of that in there. I don’t see the concerns of the people that were against it really being addressed at all. Big whoop. We’re going to have something in to protect organizations, consciousness or religious rights. We have nothing, they didn’t address at all the individuals or the business owners that might have an objections. They addressed liability, oh, it’s going to be kicked to the state. The municipality will never have any liability according to Mr. Summerson from the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. He can’t guarantee that, number one. Number two, nobody says anything about the liability of the individuals or the business owners. That was a huge concern brought up. They don’t address that at all. I don’t get it. They really did not address the concerns that were brought up in this report at all. So why in the world should they recommend it when they didn’t address any of that?”

Ryan said, “This is a commission that was directed by Alice Elia, Democrat, council president. We’ve got Mike Herbert, who’s an independent, he’s the vice president of council. Kathy Leedy’s a Democrat. Heath Talhelm’s a Democrat. They did the dance, they have the appearance and you will get what you get if you don’t participate in the whole process here. Again, as Mike Ross and Steve Christian said are we creating a problem just looking for a solution here?

Jansen added, “My advice to anyone who’s like ‘I’m surprised. I can’t believe they’re really going to put this in,’ show up. Make an email. Make a phone call. Let people know. Because even if this gets passed, if we have a record of people who objected to it, that could be something we could revisit.”