MECHANICSBURG – As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, there’s a new law enforcement agency patrolling the streets of North Lewisburg – the Mechanicsburg Police Department (MPD).
During Monday’s Mechanicsburg Village Council meeting, officials from North Lewisburg were on hand as council members suspending the three-readings rule and passed on emergency basis a resolution approving a three-year deal in which the MPD will provide police protection to the residents of North Lewisburg.
“I’m very pleased with everything that has transpired so far,” North Lewisburg Mayor Cheryl Hollingsworth said. “The cooperation has been wonderful, and I look forward to a great working relationship.”
In response to the gratitude Hollingsworth bestowed upon the village of Mechanicsburg and its police department, Mechanicsburg Mayor Greg Kimball responded by saying, “We appreciate the confidence you have in our police department, and what they’ve been doing. We look forward to the opportunity to be able to serve you.”
Mechanicsburg Police Chief John Alexander noted the police protection contract, which Hollingsworth said wouldn’t have been possible without the work of Mechanicsburg Administrator April Huggins-Davis, North Lewisburg Administrator Andy Yoder and Mechanicsburg Solicitor Joe Jimenez, is not a full-time contract.
“We are only there 80 hours a week, the same as the sheriff was,” Alexander said.
He added the agreement was initiated by North Lewisburg officials after the village’s contract for law enforcement services through the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office wasn’t renewed for 2017.
“I think it’s a good thing to be able to help out a neighboring community when they need help,” Alexander said.
For Mechanicsburg residents concerned about how the agreement will affect the MPD’s ability to protect its residents at home, Alexander reiterated his top priority is and will always been the citizens of Mechanicsburg.
“Nothing will change here,” he said. “We work every day to make things better here, and we will do the same there. The level of service will not change here in Mechanicsburg.
“We will never leave this village uncovered,” Alexander added.
The MPD’s ability to not only serve its own residents but also the residents of North Lewisburg is possible because of the manpower available to the department.
Alexander said the MPD currently consists of 16 members in varying employment stages: five full time, six part time and five auxiliary (unpaid).
While there will be the occasional fill-ins for vacations…etc., Alexander said the plan is to try to keep the same officers in North Lewisburg as much as possible in order to build a rapport with the community.
“We want people to feel comfortable up there, so we will stick with four or five (officers) rotating out,” he said.
Alexander added the North Lewisburg office will be overseen by Captain Scott Bodey.
As per the agreement, the village of North Lewisburg will pay the village of Mechanicsburg for police protection at a rate of $25.10 per hour for 80 hours of coverage a week.
In addition, the village of North Lewisburg is providing members of the MPD assigned to the village with office space, phones, computer equipment, Internet service, copiers, fax equipment, office supplies and administration support.
A patrol vehicle is also being provided by North Lewisburg.
Mechanicsburg officials reiterated during Monday’s council meeting that the deal is costing the village nothing since North Lewisburg has agreed to provide everything needed to make sure the MPD has what it needs to provide police services to its neighbors to the north.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.