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Maxatawny to Drop Lawsuit Against Upper Macungie Over Police Force Assets

Citing progress in divvying up assets of the Berk-Lehigh Regional Police Force, Maxatawny supervisors decide to drop lawsuit against Upper Macungie and other member muncipalities.

 

Maxatawny Township supervisors voted 3-0 to drop their lawsuit against Upper Macungie and other member municipalities of the Berks-Lehigh Regional Police Force, Maxatawny manager Justin Yaich said Friday.

The decision to drop the lawsuit came 10 days after the Berks-Lehigh Regional Police Force Commission agreed to have the remaining assets of the regional police department appraised, then auctioned. The regional police force disbands at the end of the year, and Upper Macungie's new force begins operation Jan. 1.

Upper Macungie Supervisor Sam Ashmar learned of the vote from Patch, saying it was "very good news." He had not yet gotten official word.

"It seems that cooler heads will prevail," Ashmar said. "And hopefully, Maxatawny sees that it's to everyone’s avantage to work together to get this resolved as quickly as possible."

Maxatawny, in a lawsuit filed Nov. 1, argued the member municipalities of the Berks-Lehigh Regional Police Commission -- Upper Macungie, Topton, Lyons and Maxatawny -- were "deadlocked" over how to divvy up the regional police force's equipment. It proposed that a receiver (someone with custodial responsibility of the assets) be appointed. 

However, at its meeting in November, the Berks-Lehigh Regional Police Commission voted on some distribution of assets, including the sale of the K-9 unit and firearms to Upper Macungie, and it agreed to an appraisal and auction of the force's remaining assets, officials said.

Yaich said the lawsuit did what Maxatawny had hoped -- got everyone "moving faster" to make decisions so that the regional police force's equipment is not left sitting in storage after the department disbands. 

But, Yaich said Maxatawny, in withdrawing the lawsuit against Upper Macungie, Topton, Lyons and the department, will reserve the right to refile the suit, should the commission fail to follow through and liquidate assets.

Ashmar said the department's remaining equipment will be stored after Dec. 31 and appraised, then auctioned, in an orderly liquidation. He said the hope is that everything will be completed by April, with the commission getting the best prices on equipment for the benefit of all parties.

He said liquidation will be "the easy stuff." The commission also will have to address potential police pension shortfalls.

Upper Macungie starts its new 28-member police force on Jan. 1.

Meanwhile, Maxatawny will have coverage, beginning Jan. 1, with the Pennsylvania State Police, Yaich said. Maxatawny will put the issue of police protection on the 2013 primary ballot for township residents to decide.

Yaich said interim Police Chief Roger L. Heins will guide Maxatawny through its exit with Berks-Lehigh Regional Police and will coordinate with state police to assure adequate police coverage. 

Topton decided to go with state police coverage, according to a report in the Reading Eagle. The state police also will meet with Lyons regarding coverage, the report said.

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