ASHLEY — Crime is rising in Ashley, according to a borough councilman.
Some folks want more police on duty, but the question is: Can the borough’s budget handle it?
“I believe our crime rate in the borough is starting to rise,” Councilman Joseph McGlynn Jr. said at a special council meeting on Friday.
McGlynn, who is also fire chief, said there have been two armed robberies and two incidents of shots fired at different locations this month. One of the incidents involved a man using an automatic weapon in a drive-by shooting.
Newly elected Mayor David Evans said the police department is “in the process of bringing three people back.”
Councilwoman Sharon Keefe said the borough needs a minimum of two officers per shift, especially on weekend nights. The borough typically has one officer on duty per shift. Several members of the public voiced agreement.
Councilman Frank Sorokach said it “bothers” him that Hanover Township police responded to the two armed robberies in Ashley before Ashley police. “I want to find out why that’s happened.”
Police Chief John Bell said both occurrences “can be fully explained.”
Sorokach said he never heard an explanation.
Bell replied that was because he was never asked for one.
Council members and members of the public asked for an explanation, but Bell said he would explain it to council “in closed session” because “it’s involving a safety issue and procedures of the department on a budget that we can’t operate on. It needs to be done behind closed doors.”
Some residents complained that they never see police patrolling their streets.
Council President Donald Sipple said Ashley police responded to 1,731 incidents in 2012 and 2,186 in 2013. He said that as of Thursday, there were 163 incidents this year, three of them “serious and violent in nature.”
Sipple said it’s not that police aren’t patrolling, it’s that they’re often responding to incidents and, when they’re not, they’re completing paperwork at the station.