After 15 years, Pequea Township has a police department dedicated solely to the municipality. As far as retired police chief and current township supervisor Bob Race can tell, the department was first formed in the 1960s. Lloyd Bachman was the first chief, preceding Race in that role.
"You couldn't even write your own traffic tickets back then," Race related. "You went before the judge, and he mailed them a ticket."
In 2002, Pequea Township partnered with Conestoga Township to form the Southern Regional Police Department (SRPD), which patrolled both townships. At the end of 2017, a decision was made by both townships to dissolve the police commission, and in 2018, Conestoga Township moved to rely on the state police, said current Pequea Township Police Department (PTPD) chief John Michener. The SRPD was left with providing service to only Pequea Township, so it moved into the municipal building at 1026 Millwood Road, Willow Street. From there, the department patrols the 13.6-square-mile township and a population of about 5,000 people.
On the first day of 2019, the department's name was officially changed to Pequea Township Police Department. The PTPD is in the process of changing the names on the cruisers and on signage. New uniform patches were commissioned, and officers now sport an arrowhead-shaped patch bearing the state seal and township name. Michener noted that the design was chosen to be simple and to honor the Native American heritage of the area.
As a result of going from serving two townships to one, staffing was reduced slightly. Now, six full-time officers and a handful of part-time patrolmen provide around-the-clock coverage of the township. One of the officers is a member of the Lancaster County Drug Task Force, which provides the PTPD with resources and intel-gathering for the management of illegal drugs.
"Pequea Township seems more than happy to have us. They're pleased with the police service we're providing," Michener said. "We have a positive relationship with the board of supervisors and overwhelming support from the public. Combined with good officers, all that leads to great service by the police department."
"We have the best officers in the county," Race agreed. "I'm proud to have these (officers). I would hire any of them if I were still chief."
In particular, Michener praised Sgt. Robert Burger, who was named the Officer of the Year at an appreciation dinner on Jan. 5. Burger has been with the department for 16 years and is in charge of criminal investigations. During the transition period when Michener was swamped with extra work, Burger picked up the slack, freeing Michener to focus on making the transition as smooth as possible.
As chief of the PTPD, Michener has plans for the future of the department. He has kickstarted a bicycle patrol in the township's urban growth areas, and he has plans to focus on parts of the township that had been previously overlooked. The PTPD's records management system will be changed soon, and significant updates are being made to the personnel policy, which lays out how the department operates from top to bottom. The PTPD continues to offer house checks while residents are on vacation, Project Lifesaver monitoring and recovery, and safe pharmaceutical disposal. Officers also visit Pequea Elementary School to interact with students and provide positive interactions with police.
Michener noted that he would like to explore other townships getting involved with the police department again. He cited several townships in Lancaster County that contract with other municipalities for coverage and pointed out that the majority of townships in the Southern End rely on the state police for service.
For more information about the PTPD, readers may visit http://www.pequeatownshippd.org, follow @PequeaTwpPD on Twitter, find Pequea Township PD on Facebook, or call Michener at 717-945-7546.