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Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Approves a Single Fire Chief for NESD Career & NFA Volunteer Firefighters & Reduces Funding for Volunteers

Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Approves a Single Fire Chief for NESD Career & NFA Volunteer Firefighters & Reduces Funding for Volunteers | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Newtown Township Fire Chief Glenn Forsyth will officially take over as chief of the all volunteer Newtown Fire Association effective Jan. 1, 2021 under a bylaws change approved by the board of supervisors on October 29.

 

“This is a huge step for the Newtown Emergency Services and the Newtown Fire Association,” said Forsyth, the chief of the paid Newtown Emergency Services department. “It’s the first step in bringing our two departments together as one.”

 

It’s also in keeping with a fire study commissioned by the township in 2018, which recommended moving to a single fire chief who would oversee both the paid full time staff at the Newtown Emergency Services department (Station 55) and the volunteers with the Newtown Fire Association (Station 55).

 

The resignation of NFA Chief Matt Gerhard at the NFA’s October meeting opened the door to the change in bylaws, which is pending the approval of the NFA membership at its November meeting.

 

“Matt is taking a leave of absence only as the Chief. We’re not letting him out the door,” said Forsyth.

 

If the change is approved by the NFA membership, a new organizational chart will be put into place in which Forsyth will now officially oversee both organizations. A deputy chief will be added to the association’s chain of command and two battalion chiefs would be added, one at Station 55 and one at Station 45. Both would report to Forsyth.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Why I voted NOT to approve this contract.

 

The contract, like the proposed 2021 budget, reduces the Newtown Township’s yearly contribution to the NFA from $175,000 to $160,000. If the contract is approved by the NFA, it takes precedence over the budget, meaning the Township is committed to that lower number and Supervisors no longer have any say in the matter.

 

Meanwhile, the proposed 7.99 mills real estate tax increase includes 0.125 added to the Fire Fund, which includes this yearly contribution and the salary and benefits of the Chief Forsyth. That’s an added $43,000 per year! The township is collecting MUCH MORE than enough additional money to cover the Chief’s salary & benefits while providing LESS services via funding the NFA!

 

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johnmacknewtown's curator insight, November 3, 2020 8:42 AM

Why I voted NOT to approve this contract:

 

The contract, like the proposed 2021 budget, reduces the Newtown Township’s yearly contribution to the NFA from $175,000 to $160,000. If the contract is approved by the NFA, it takes precedence over the budget, meaning the Township is committed to that number and Supervisors no longer have any say in the matter.

 

Meanwhile, the proposed 7.99 mills real estate tax increase includes 0.125 added to the Fire Fund, which includes this yearly contribution and the salary and benefits of the Chief Forsyth. That’s an added $43,000 per year! The township is collecting MUCH MORE than enough additional money to cover the Chief’s salary & benefits while providing LESS services via funding the NFA!

 

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Bucks County Nursing Home's Vaccine Mandate for Staff Blasted By Tom Tosti, AFSCME Union Representative

Bucks County Nursing Home's Vaccine Mandate for Staff Blasted By Tom Tosti, AFSCME Union Representative | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The union representative for employees at Bucks County's largest nursing home is asking county officials to reconsider its mandatory vaccine requirement for staff at the facility.

 

Tom Tosti, a Middletown Township resident who heads the southeastern branch of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union, said the county failed to work with the union despite repeated attempts at outreach on behalf of employees.

 

"Instead of taking AFSCME up on our offer to work with the county, you laid out an ultimatum. This was a complete failure on your part," Tosti said in a statement to the Bucks County of Commissioners. "We were ready to work with the county to get people vaccinated, but instead you said they will be fired, which only makes it harder for us to work with you on this."

 

"Personally, I will be happy to roll up my sleeve to get vaccinated when it is my turn, but that is my own personal decision," Tosti said. "There are many Americans, including many who work at the Manor, who are hesitant to be among the first to be vaccinated, particularly when the vaccine has only been authorized for emergency use and is not yet approved by the FDA."

 

Eighty-five residents have died of COVID-19 at the nursing home since March, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. County officials said the high death rate at the facility led to the decision to make the vaccine mandatory for employees there.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

"Not yet approved by the FDA" is an interesting defense for non-compliance if used out of context. The vaccine was approved for "emergency use" and this is surely an emergency. This is just one reason that I don't believe we will ever reach Fauci's goal of vaccinating 85-90% of the population. Many Americans already believe the virus is a hoax thanks to one who shall not be named. Perhaps a more intelligent fringe of that person's minions will use the "not approved" excuse and will sound sane enough for others to follow suit.

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Pa. State Police Resume Collecting Racial, Ethnic Data During Traffic Stops

Pa. State Police Resume Collecting Racial, Ethnic Data During Traffic Stops | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police said Tuesday that his department began collecting data during traffic stops at the beginning of the year as part of a program to identify any racial or ethnic disparities and recommend remedies if they do exist.

 

“Troopers take an oath to enforce the law ‘without any consideration of class, color, creed or condition,” and this data collection effort is one way to show the public we are upholding that oath,” Col. Robert Evanchick said in a statement.

 

“Regular and ongoing analysis by a neutral third party is a critical part of this program that emphasizes our department’s commitment to transparency and continuous improvement,” he said.

 

Evanchick said State Police will collect data for 30 fields, including driver and passenger ages, gender, race and ethnicity, as well the length of the stop, any searches and search results.

 

Data will be analyzed by University of Cincinnati researchers to determine patterns of racial or ethnic disparity any recommendations for changes to State Police policies or training, Evanchick said.

 

A final statistical analysis report will be released in April 2022, police said.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

At this time, the Newtown Police Department does not collect such information for all traffic stops unless it results in an arrest.


In 2020, the Newtown Police Department (NTPD) made 54 traffic stops due to vehicle "Code Violations." About one-third of  these stops involved involved marijuana and nearly half resulted in DUI charges.

johnmacknewtown's curator insight, January 15, 8:16 AM

One topic related to this that of of interest to me is how to achieve more diversity in the hiring of Newtown police officers. This topic was brought up by Mr. McCarron, a Newtown Resident, at theJanuary 13, 2021,  BOS meeting. It is also a topic of interest to the Newtown Human Relations Commission. Karen Downer, the President of the Bucks County NAACP will be a speaker at the Wednesday, February 17th (7pm) Zoom meeting of the NT HRC.  She will talk with residents about the NAACP's efforts to Reimage Public Safety.  "I think we are all on the same  page about the problem with racism in Bucks County, and in the police force in particular," said Aamir Nayheem, Chair of the NT HRC.

It is VERY timely to discuss this. See this article: "Pa. State Police Resume Collecting Racial, Ethnic Data During traffic Stops"; http://sco.lt/8IzfnM 

 

NT HRC members alerted me to another article on this topic: "Highway ‘stop-and-frisk’: How Pennsylvania state troopers conduct illegal traffic searches",

The argument that the racial makeup of OUR police force should match the racial makeup of Newtown citizens is not citing what's more relevant: that the major work of OUR police force has to do with traffic stops on the Newtown Bypass and Swamp Road, which I bet are largely traveled by people who are NOT Newtown residents. Therefore, I contend that our police force must match more closely the racial and ethnic makeup of those people, not the township people. But that makeup can only be known IF the NT Police first follows the lead of the PA State Police and collect racial and ethnic data of subjects at ALL traffic stops, including those that do not result in a citation.

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Resident Petition to Limit Large Truck Traffic on Stoopville Road

Resident Petition to Limit Large Truck Traffic on Stoopville Road | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Are you concerned about the large truck traffic on Stoopville Road. Did you know that several dangerous accidents have occurred on Stoopville Rd within the past few months, resulting in temporary closure of the road? Did you know that PennDot redesigned Stoopville Road several years ago narrowing it in efforts to reduce the high volume of traffic?

PennDot’s Traffic Reduction Initiatives not only failed, but it resulted in creating a state roadway that is significantly limited in handling the high volume of large truck traffic. This is extremely unsafe! The weight and size of these large trucks had caused tremendous erosion of this roadway’s surfacing, especially along narrow shoulder.

I implore you to stand as a community of residents to support the limitation of large truck traffic on Stoopville Road. Contact the township manager, Micah Lewis, PennDot representative, Don Centofante, and state representative Perry Warren.

 

Find and sign the petition here: http://bit.ly/StoopvilleTruckPetition 

johnmacknewtowns insight:

On November 17, 2020, the Newtown Police tweeted: 

"ROAD CLOSED. Stoopville Road is closed between Durham Road (Route 413) and Eagle Road for a rollover truck accident. Please avoid the area until further notice."

johnmacknewtown's curator insight, January 5, 7:54 AM

On November 17, 2020, the Newtown Police tweeted: 

"ROAD CLOSED. Stoopville Road is closed between Durham Road (Route 413) and Eagle Road for a rollover truck accident. Please avoid the area until further notice."

 

On January 13, 2021 the Newtown-Makefield Truck Enforcement Unit conducted a commercial vehicle safety inspection detail on Stoopville Rd in Newtown Twp. Results from the details: 11 trucks stopped and inspected; 3 Trucks out of service; 12 Violations, 10 Warnings; 2 Citations

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Recruitment for PFAS Health Study to Begin This Spring in Bucks and Montgomery Counties

Recruitment for PFAS Health Study to Begin This Spring in Bucks and Montgomery Counties | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Recruitment for a study into the long-term health effects of PFAS exposure in Bucks and Montgomery counties should start this spring.

 

Officials with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) are hoping to have 1,000 adults and 300 children exposed to the suspected carcinogen near Warminster, Warrington and Horsham.

 

The chemicals contaminated public and private drinking water wells for decades from firefighting foams used at nearby active and former military bases.

 

The ATSDR, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and researchers from the nonprofit group RTI International, the state Department of Health, Temple University and other groups have been organizing the study over the past several months.

 

Researchers were able to provide more details on eligibility during a Dec. 3 public Zoom meeting announcing the potential expansion of the study area since July.

 

The primary focus will be in residents living near some of the most heavily contaminated wells in the three townships, a population of roughly 32,000 people in 12,000 households.

 

Wells in Bucks and Montgomery counties were among the most contaminated sites tested in the country four years ago, with some having nearly 100 times more than the EPA’s 70 ppt limit.

 

Researchers will directly contact certain residents in those areas once a study site office is established and operational in the spring.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Related Content:

 

  • “Perfluorinated Compounds Detected in Newtown Township's Water Supply”; http://sco.lt/70ujU9
  • “Guest Opinion: PFAS Crisis Calls for Nonpartisan Support of Setting Lower Maximum Contamination Levels”; http://sco.lt/4vcjfU
  • “Gov. Wolf Says PA is NOT Going Too Slow to Set Safe Limits for PFAS in Drinking Water”; http://sco.lt/7JCbGy
  • “Why Isn't the Military Cleaning up Firefighting Chemicals That Continue to Contaminate Local Drinking Water Sources?”; http://sco.lt/8JEvvk
  • “Senators From BOTH Parties Press EPA to Develop Enforceable Standards Limiting PFOA and PFOS in Drinking Water”; http://sco.lt/8NQUwz
  • “U.S. House Launches Bipartisan PFAS Task Force That Promises to Set Formal Drinking Water Standard for PFAS”; http://sco.lt/6JjI4P
johnmacknewtown's curator insight, December 13, 2020 9:40 AM

Related Content:

 

  • “Perfluorinated Compounds Detected in Newtown Township's Water Supply”; http://sco.lt/70ujU9
  • “Guest Opinion: PFAS Crisis Calls for Nonpartisan Support of Setting Lower Maximum Contamination Levels”; http://sco.lt/4vcjfU
  • “Gov. Wolf Says PA is NOT Going Too Slow to Set Safe Limits for PFAS in Drinking Water”; http://sco.lt/7JCbGy
  • “Why Isn't the Military Cleaning up Firefighting Chemicals That Continue to Contaminate Local Drinking Water Sources?”; http://sco.lt/8JEvvk
  • “Senators From BOTH Parties Press EPA to Develop Enforceable Standards Limiting PFOA and PFOS in Drinking Water”; http://sco.lt/8NQUwz
  • “U.S. House Launches Bipartisan PFAS Task Force That Promises to Set Formal Drinking Water Standard for PFAS”; http://sco.lt/6JjI4P
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@Newtown_Police Chief Hearn Asks Residents to Report Non-Emergency Issues (fraud complaints, minor property damage, ID theft, lost property, etc.) to 24/7 Non-emergency Line: 215-328-8524

@Newtown_Police Chief Hearn Asks Residents to Report Non-Emergency Issues (fraud complaints, minor property damage, ID theft, lost property, etc.) to 24/7 Non-emergency Line: 215-328-8524 | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Due to the ongoing situation involving coronavirus/COVID-19, the Newtown Township Police Department is once again asking for the public’s assistance regarding reporting  non-emergency services for the following circumstances: To file non-emergency police reports (fraud complaints, minor property damage, ID theft, lost property, etc.), Please call our 24/7 non-emergency line at 215-328-8524 and ask for an officer to call you or you can email us at policeinfo@twp.newtown.pa.us during normal business hours, Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm. An officer will contact you back to obtain information and document the incident.

 

We ask that you refrain from visiting the police department if you are sick, have or had a fever or other associated symptoms. We strongly encourage the use of phone and/or email reporting for non-emergency matters. If you have symptoms and are on location at our headquarters, please utilize the “red” phone outside our building and an officer will advise you of proper procedures. Do NOT enter the building! 

 

Also, all fingerprinting request are to be made by phone at 215-579-1000 x220 where an appointment and following of all safety guidelines will be required.

 

We are taking these measures to assure the health and safety of our officers and their ability to continue to provide the highest level of protection for our residents. Thank you for your continued support!

 

John L. Hearn Chief of Police

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Also note this public notice from Newtown Twp Manager:

 

As of Friday, December 4, 2020, public access to all Township

Administrative Offices will be Closed to the public pending further

direction from the Governor's Office.

 

Attendance to all in-person public meetings, recreation programs, etc. will be limited to the occupancy levels established by the Governor’s Office.

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October 2020 Newtown Township Police Report

October 2020 Newtown Township Police Report | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

In October 2020, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,476 total calls, 295 (20%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown and Wrightstown Townships). Note: Not all calls are listed.

 

There was a significant increase in calls to date vs 2019 for the following: Credit Card Fraud, DUI, Criminal Mischief, and narcotics. These types of calls might be expected to have increased due to the financial and emotional stress due to COVID-19 even though during the red phase of lockdown - from the end of March to the 3rd week of May - calls were down significantly.

 

Another way to look at crime in Newtown is to focus on serious crimes - so-called "Part I" offenses such as murder, manslaughter, sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft.

 

More…

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Newtown Township Police Officers Receive Commendations for Saving the Life of a Fire Victim

Newtown Township Police Officers Receive Commendations for Saving the Life of a Fire Victim | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Corporal Paul Deppi, Officer Nicklaus Whitney, and Officer Nicholas Ciambrello received Commendations for Life Saving for their exceptional actions on February 25, 2020, that undoubtedly saved the life of a fire victim.

 

The collective effort began in response to a dispatch call for a structure fire involving an apartment on Diamond Drive. It was reported that a blind victim was still inside. Patrol quickly responded and assessed the situation. The individual was trapped inside the residence, which was fully engulfed in flames and producing heavy smoke.

 

They proceeded to break through the window of a bedroom and took turns calling and reaching for the victim. Despite the substantial risk to their own safety from the heavy smoke condition and heat levels, they each continued until the victim was located and pulled through the window and relocated to safety.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Well done! There are many other instances where Newtown Twp police have saved lives, such as when they administer Narcan to drug overdose victims. I hope they also receive recognition.

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Bucks County Towns With Most, Least Active COVID-19 Cases: Newtown Twp Total Cases To Date = 183, Deaths = 14

Bucks County Towns With Most, Least Active COVID-19 Cases: Newtown Twp Total Cases To Date = 183, Deaths = 14 | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

With the number of new coronavirus infections in Bucks County holding steady at a relatively low rate, the highest numbers of new cases remain concentrated in the population centers of Lower Bucks.

 

But even the numbers in the county's most populated areas are down dramatically from the peak of the pandemic, according to the latest figures from the Bucks County Department of Health.

 

Bensalem, the most populous township in Bucks County, had 56 active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday, according to a health department map

 

Even as Pennsylvania and neighboring New Jersey have reported an increase in new COVID-19 cases over the past week or so, Bucks County has reported maintaining a low baseline number of cases.

 

The following is a [selected] list of municipalities in lower and central Bucks County, along with their number of active coronavirus cases, number of cases since the pandemic began and number of reported deaths.

 

Middletown Township

Active Cases: 23

Total Cases: 868

Deaths: 77

 

Lower Makefield Township

Active Cases: 11

Total Cases: 462

Deaths: 63

 

Newtown Township

Active Cases: 1-10

Total Cases: 183

Deaths: 14

 

Wrightstown Township

Active Cases: 1-10

Total Cases: 35

Deaths: 1-10

 

Northampton Township

Active Cases: 25

Total Cases: 522

Deaths: 24

 

Doylestown Township

Active Cases: 14

Total Cases: 439

Deaths: 77

 

Upper Makefield

Active Cases: 1-10

Total Cases: 66

Deaths: 1-10

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Related Content:

  • “Local Area Fire, Rescue, and EMS Will Receive $535,425 in #COVID19 State Relief Fund Awards”; http://sco.lt/6hyOgq
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The Volunteer Newtown Fire Association is at a Turning Point

The Volunteer Newtown Fire Association is at a Turning Point | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

[NFA Station 45 on Liberty Street in Newtown Borough]

 

The future of the all-volunteer Newtown Fire Association (NFA) may be determined in the next few months. This is based on plans to address continued staffing and leadership challenges. NFA president Warren Dallas read a letter outlining these challenges to members at the September 28, 2020, regular meeting of the Association.

“Due to a variety of reasons,” noted Dallas, “the Newtown Fire Association is at times unable to provide the proper minimum staffing” to respond to fire calls in Newtown Borough and Newtown Township. As is the case in PA and the rest of the country, the NFA is struggling to recruit, train and retain volunteer firefighters. These problems have worsened this year due to COVID-19.

 

More...

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Moving Toward Progressive Community Policing

Moving Toward Progressive Community Policing | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Bucks County Local Officials and NAACP Discuss the Options

 

On September 23, 2020, the Progressive Local Officials of Bucks County, which is supported by the Bucks County Democratic Committee, hosted a Zoom webinar entitled "Policing in Our Community." The moderator was Doylestown Township Supervisor Jen Herring. Panelists included:

 

Panelists:

  • Brian Munroe - Bucks County Clerk of Courts
  • Mayor Ron Strouse - Doylestown Borough - Member of Central Bucks Regional Police Commission and Chair of the Central Bucks Regional Police Foundation (CRPF).
  • Kayma Sherman-Knuckles - Bucks County NAACP Criminal Justice and Education Committee - Reimagine Public Safety Co-Chair

 

The panel addressed the following questions among other issues:

  • What policing policies and practices should we as elected officials review for proper oversight?
  • What data should we be looking at to evaluate our departments?
  • What are some best practices we can consider adopting to help our police be more sensitive to community needs?

 

Some very interesting statistics and ideas for how local officials can improve the accountability of local police forces. More...

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Related Content:                            

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Persistent Resident Complaints Lead to Newtown Township Installing Portable Restrooms in its Parks

Persistent Resident Complaints Lead to Newtown Township Installing Portable Restrooms in its Parks | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

[Photo shows sign taped to door of every portable restroom in Newtown parks.]

 

Persistent complaints from a resident prompted Newtown Township officials to recently install portable restrooms at township parks.

 

The parks had been without restroom facilities of any kind for several months because of fears their use might help spread the coronavirus, township officials said.

 

But resident Terry Halper said not providing any facilities could lead to unsanitary conditions. The portable restrooms were installed after Halper lodged frequent complaints with township Manager Micah Lewis and township supervisors, and contacted the Bucks County Health Department.

 

"Portable restrooms have been provided in parks where regular restrooms exist for the use of the public at their discretion," Lewis said. "The regular restrooms are not open due to the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions and mandates,"

 

Township supervisor John Mack added "I think providing portable restrooms in our parks was a positive step to service the need of residents who use the parks during these difficult times. Obviously, it's always a good thing when the township responds to residents' concerns in a timely fashion, which was the case here."

 

But Halper said he was far from thrilled by the township's response despite the eventual installation of the portable restrooms.

 

"I shouldn't have to fight this hard to get sanitary facilities in parks," he said. "I think they need help in understanding public health issues."

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Mr Halper wrote:

 

"The Following Complaint has been filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Health due to the LACK OF TIMELY action by Newtown Township ... to PROTECT the health and Welfare of the 20,000 Newtown Township Residents...

 

"Newtown Township, Bucks County, PA has their 3 public Parks, (Veterans, Robert's Ridge, and Helen Randall), OPEN, Utilized by 50% of the 20,000 Township population: Have had the public Restrooms CLOSED all of 2020. NO HAND Sanitizer. No sanitary facility, No porta Potty...

 

"Every other Local, County, or State Park in the area that is OPEN has AT least 1 porta potty in their parks IF they have chosen to lock the built restrooms..."

 

 

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Delray City Weighs Cost Down the Road of Accepting a $1.6M Grant to Hire Firefighters

Delray City Weighs Cost Down the Road of Accepting a $1.6M Grant to Hire Firefighters | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

With the city facing a coronavirus-induced deficit of $2.3 million, two city commissioners have asked Interim City Manager Jennifer Alvarez to determine what will happen if the city refuses to accept a federal $1.6 million grant to hire eight firefighter/paramedics.

 

The grants, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, help cities hire frontline firefighters to adequately staff their fire departments.

 

The grants are referred to as SAFER grants, as in “Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response.” In 2014, the city landed another SAFER grant, this one totaling $1.2 million to hire seven firefighters.

 

But what’s at issue is the long-term impact the grants have on the city’s budget.

 

The grant only partially cover the new hires’ salaries and expires after three years. For the first two years, it covers 75% of salaries and 35% the third year. The cost to Delray Beach for the first two years is $221,492 and $575,879 the third year. With the federal aid no longer available thereafter, the city will have to assume the entire annual payroll cost of $885,968. The grant requires the city to maintain its existing staffing level.

 

[NOTE: “DHS and FEMA will provide these fire departments with 100 percent of the funding needed to hire fire fighters over the next three years.” Source: IAFF]

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Newtown Township applied for a SAFER grant to hire 5 new paid firefighters in order for the township to provide 7 day coverage where currently it provides coverage for 5 days and the all volunteer Newtown Fire Association covers weekends and evenings. As of September 23, 2020, which is well past the “award date” of July 1, 2020, NT has not received confirmation that it has won an award.

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Newtown-Makefield Truck Enforcement Unit: Commercial Vehicle Safety Inspection | Newtown Township Police Department

Newtown-Makefield Truck Enforcement Unit: Commercial Vehicle Safety Inspection | Newtown Township Police Department | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

On August 12, 2020, the Newtown-Makefield Truck Enforcement Unit conducted a commercial vehicle safety inspection detail in Wrightstown Township in order to help make our roads safer. The Newtown-Makefield Truck Enforcement Unit is made up of MCSAP officers from Newtown Township Police Department, the Newtown Borough Police Department and Upper Makefield Township Police Department.  See attached Below are the results from the details:

 

  • 17 trucks stopped and inspected
  • 18 Total Violations 
  • 3 Trucks out of service
  • 9 Citations
  • 9 Warnings

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Frustrations Build in Bucks County Amid Expanded Vaccine Rollout

Frustrations Build in Bucks County Amid Expanded Vaccine Rollout | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

On Tuesday state health officials added millions more Pennsylvanians immediately eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, moving residents over 65 and those with high-risk medical conditions to the front of the line along with health care providers, emergency medical workers, and long-term care residents and employees.

 

Pennsylvania Medical Society leaders are frustrated that front-line health care workers — who were supposed to be at the front of the line — may be left out as the pool of eligible recipients more than doubles with the addition of those 65 and older.

 

Consumers are frustrated that they simply can’t get it, and don't know where to turn.

 

More…

johnmacknewtowns insight:

LOL! When I call the number for the Holy Redeemer site I get this recorded message: "The owner of this mailbox is not accepting messages. Goodbye!" CLICK!

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Racial Profiling in Traffic Stops? PA State Police Stopped Collecting Data in 2012 But May Resume in 2021

Racial Profiling in Traffic Stops? PA State Police Stopped Collecting Data in 2012 But May Resume in 2021 | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The Pennsylvania State Police, the third-largest statewide law enforcement agency in the country, has stopped collecting data on the race of drivers its troopers pull over, making it far more difficult to detect bias, Spotlight PA has learned.

The change, which was never publicly announced, was made by the State Police in 2012 and has remained in place despite national attention on race and policing in recent years and the widely accepted value of collecting such data for analysis.

Comprised of about 4,700 troopers, the Pennsylvania State Police is one of only 11 statewide law enforcement agencies in the U.S. that does not collect race data during stops, and by far the largest, according to a Spotlight PA survey of all 50 states.

Similarly sized state police agencies in New York and New Jersey both collect the data.

“It makes it look like you either don’t care about disparities or you are trying to hide what the data shows,” said Christy Lopez, a professor at Georgetown Law and former official in the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “And that undermines police legitimacy.”

When initially asked why data collection was discontinued, a spokesman for the State Police said it was based on studies that found no evidence of racial disparities in traffic stops. One of those studies had, however, identified “racial, ethnic, and gender disparities” in how troopers dealt with motorists after they were stopped.

On Sept. 17, after being presented with the findings of Spotlight PA’s nationwide survey, State Police officials said the agency would reverse course and resume collection next year.

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Central Bucks Police, Counseling Center Team Up for Drug Addiction Treatment Program Based on Idea by Plumstead Police Chief David Mettin.

Central Bucks Police, Counseling Center Team Up for Drug Addiction Treatment Program Based on Idea by Plumstead Police Chief David Mettin. | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Four Central Bucks police departments are teaming up with a counseling center to better serve those suffering from addiction or substance abuse in their communities.

 

Central Bucks Regional Police, Buckingham police, Doylestown Township police and Plumstead police will be working with Doylestown-based Aldie Counseling Center starting Jan. 4 as part of a program called “Supporting Treatment and Recovery Program," or STAR.

 

Under the new program, officers responding to calls related to substance abuse, which include overdose calls, domestic violence or DUI incidents, will provide a consent form to those suffering from addiction or substance abuse problems.

 

Should they sign the form, their information will be passed along to Aldie Counseling Center, which will get in contact with the person within 24 hours and assess them to put them on the path to recovery, according to department officials.

 

“Whatever other means we can use for outreach, certainly Aldie wants to be a part of that," Aldie CEO Gerald Birkelbach said.

 

The idea for the program came from Plumstead police Chief David Mettin. The chief said his previous department, Slate Belt Regional Police in Northampton County, had a similar program.

 

“It worked well, we really drastically reduced the amount of overdoses we had up there," he said.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Chief Mettin was one of the front runner applicants for Newtown Chief of Police back in 2019 (read “Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Hires Philadelphia Captain as Newtown's Next Police Chief”; http://sco.lt/7W3uUr). Mettin’s position on drug addiction made an impression on me. He also did not believe that marijuana was a “gateway” drug leading to opioid addiction. In fact, opioids provided by physicians are a major factor in drug abuse.

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Middletown Looks To Produce Savings By Offering Deal For Older Police Officers To Retire

Middletown Looks To Produce Savings By Offering Deal For Older Police Officers To Retire | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

[One factor in calculating how many police a community needs to prevent crime is based on # of residents per police officer. See where Newtown stands on this measure in the figure above.]

 

Some veterans officers in Middletown Township could have incentive to retire early.

At their meeting last month, the Middletown Township Board of Supervisors authorized the development of a Police Department Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP) for 2021.

The program would be open to officers who are 50 years or older and provide a $100,000 cash incentive. Officers who qualify would have until the end of January to accept the deal and have to be retired by March 31.

A total of 18 officers in the department qualify for the program, Township Manager Stephanie Teoli Kuhls said.

Under the proposal, the township wouldn’t replace departing officers until the end of the next year to maximize savings.

In 2019, the township offered a similar deal for officers and saw “significant” savings after several sworn employees took it, police Chief Joseph Bartorilla said.

This year, the police department was authorized to have 59 sworn employees and 13 non-uniformed employees. The police department takes up the large chunk of Middletown Township’s budget.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Consultants noted in their report: 

"A final factor in staffing is the consideration of pending retirements which will affect the number of sworn officers in the Department. Currently, there are four officers in the DROP program which will result in their retirement and create at least four vacancies. Those officers have a combined 135 years of service, which again illustrates the stability of the workforce. Of these, two are patrolmen, and the remaining include a Sergeant and a Lieutenant. Filling these vacancies will have a net positive effect on the personnel costs of the agency in that all of the slots will be filled either via promotion or by entry-level candidates who will earn less than the incumbents."

 

Under DROP, employees pick a retirement date four years in advance and keep working while they start collecting pension payments, which go into an interest-bearing account. The result is a lump-sum payment on departure that can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

 

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Bucks police adopt countywide use-of-force guidelines

Bucks police adopt countywide use-of-force guidelines | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

After months of work, Bucks County's 39 police departments will now all be following the same 15 guidelines when force is used.

 

While many of the policies and practices were already in place among the departments, the effort represents the first time law enforcement countywide will formally work under the same set of guidelines.

 

The Bucks County Chiefs of Police Association, along with Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub, announced the guidelines Wednesday.

 

“The key to public safety, in my opinion, is transparency and communication of our police policies," Weintraub said. "This way the public’s expectation on police permissible use of force will match its perception."

 

The county's police chiefs had been working on the use-of-force guidelines since the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May and the nationwide unrest it caused.

 

There were calls for reform throughout the country, including in Bucks County.

 

The guidelines include requiring officers to use de-escalation techniques when possible, requiring an officer to intervene when another officer is using unreasonable force, and requiring officers to complete written reports when using force.

 

Chokeholds will also be prohibited unless deadly force is "reasonably necessary," according to the guidelines.

 

Deadly force may only be used when an officer believes the action is in defense of life in imminent danger or death or serious bodily injury, according to the guidelines.

 

Bensalem Director of Public Safety Fred Harran said many of the guidelines had already been followed by county departments. "This is nothing new," he said.

 

Read: 

 

A committee of multiple county chiefs was formed to look into use-of-force at the suggestion of a county chief following Floyd's death.

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Disseminating Preliminary, Incomplete COVID-19 Vaccine Study Results by Press Release Represents Bad Science

Pfizer and BioNTech announced today that the initial interim analysis of data from the phase 3 study of the companies’ experimental COVID-19 vaccine shows that it is more than 90% effective. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, released the following statement:

 

“The release of preliminary and incomplete clinical trial data by press release to the public is bad science.

 

“Until the trial results are independently reviewed and scrutinized by staff at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the independent experts on the agency’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, enthusiasm for the apparently promising interim results announced by Pfizer and BioNTech must be tempered. Crucial information absent from the companies’ announcement is  any evidence that the vaccine prevents serious COVID-19 cases or reduces hospitalizations and deaths due to the disease.

 

“More importantly, critical safety data from the phase 3 trial of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is not yet available. In order to ensure public confidence in this vaccine or any other COVID-19 vaccine being tested, the FDA must wait for sufficient long-term safety monitoring of subjects to be completed before approving such vaccines.”

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Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Approves a Single Fire Chief for NESD Career & NFA Volunteer Firefighters & Reduces Funding for Volunteers

Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Approves a Single Fire Chief for NESD Career & NFA Volunteer Firefighters & Reduces Funding for Volunteers | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Newtown Township Fire Chief Glenn Forsyth will officially take over as chief of the all volunteer Newtown Fire Association effective Jan. 1, 2021 under a bylaws change approved by the board of supervisors on October 29.

 

“This is a huge step for the Newtown Emergency Services and the Newtown Fire Association,” said Forsyth, the chief of the paid Newtown Emergency Services department. “It’s the first step in bringing our two departments together as one.”

 

It’s also in keeping with a fire study commissioned by the township in 2018, which recommended moving to a single fire chief who would oversee both the paid full time staff at the Newtown Emergency Services department (Station 55) and the volunteers with the Newtown Fire Association (Station 55).

 

The resignation of NFA Chief Matt Gerhard at the NFA’s October meeting opened the door to the change in bylaws, which is pending the approval of the NFA membership at its November meeting.

 

“Matt is taking a leave of absence only as the Chief. We’re not letting him out the door,” said Forsyth.

 

If the change is approved by the NFA membership, a new organizational chart will be put into place in which Forsyth will now officially oversee both organizations. A deputy chief will be added to the association’s chain of command and two battalion chiefs would be added, one at Station 55 and one at Station 45. Both would report to Forsyth.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Why I voted NOT to approve this contract.

 

The contract, like the proposed 2021 budget, reduces the Newtown Township’s yearly contribution to the NFA from $175,000 to $160,000. If the contract is approved by the NFA, it takes precedence over the budget, meaning the Township is committed to that lower number and Supervisors no longer have any say in the matter.

 

Meanwhile, the proposed 7.99 mills real estate tax increase includes 0.125 added to the Fire Fund, which includes this yearly contribution and the salary and benefits of the Chief Forsyth. That’s an added $43,000 per year! The township is collecting MUCH MORE than enough additional money to cover the Chief’s salary & benefits while providing LESS services via funding the NFA!

 

Related Content:

johnmacknewtown's curator insight, November 3, 2020 8:42 AM

Why I voted NOT to approve this contract:

 

The contract, like the proposed 2021 budget, reduces the Newtown Township’s yearly contribution to the NFA from $175,000 to $160,000. If the contract is approved by the NFA, it takes precedence over the budget, meaning the Township is committed to that number and Supervisors no longer have any say in the matter.

 

Meanwhile, the proposed 7.99 mills real estate tax increase includes 0.125 added to the Fire Fund, which includes this yearly contribution and the salary and benefits of the Chief Forsyth. That’s an added $43,000 per year! The township is collecting MUCH MORE than enough additional money to cover the Chief’s salary & benefits while providing LESS services via funding the NFA!

 

Related Content:

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Local Area Fire, Rescue, and EMS Will Receive $535,425 in #COVID19 State Relief Fund Awards

Local Area Fire, Rescue, and EMS Will Receive $535,425 in #COVID19 State Relief Fund Awards | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

State Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) has announced that 26 area fire, rescue, and EMS will receive $535,425 in funding to offset expenses related to COVID-19, under the COVID-19 Crisis Fire, Rescue and EMS grant from the Office of State Fire Commissioner (OSFC).

 

“Our fire, rescue, and EMS workers dedicate themselves to serving our communities and have been on the frontlines of keeping us healthy and safe, long before this pandemic started,” said Sen. Santarsiero. “These funding awards are critical to supporting the efforts of these brave men and women, who have continued to respond to the needs of our community, often with diminished resources, during these unprecedented times.”

 

The funding awards in Senate District 10 include:

 

- Doylestown Fire Co. No. 1: $25,342

- Fairless Hills Volunteer Fire Co.: $23,973

- Falls Township Fire Company #1: $25,342

- Newtown Fire Association: $25,068

- Newtown Township: $11,094

- Upper Makefield Fire Company: $25,068

- Newtown American Legion Ambulance Squad, Inc.: $15,048

- Yardley-Makefield Emergency Unit: $13,754

 

More...

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Related Content:

  • “The Volunteer Newtown Fire Association is at a Turning Point”; http://bit.ly/NFAturn
  • “Middletown To Pay $250 to Each Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Worker Who Serves the Township”; http://sco.lt/5v44nI
johnmacknewtown's curator insight, November 3, 2020 8:43 AM

Related Content:

  • “The Volunteer Newtown Fire Association is at a Turning Point”; http://bit.ly/NFAturn
  • “Middletown To Pay $250 to Each Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Worker Who Serves the Township”; http://sco.lt/5v44nI
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Coronavirus Cancels Bucks County National Night Out with Police Events

Coronavirus Cancels Bucks County National Night Out with Police Events | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

National Night Out events in Bucks County rescheduled for Tuesday have since been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The events were initially scheduled for early August. National Night Out are gatherings that local police hold with their community members.

 

Those events range from large block parties to individual, smaller gatherings throughout their respective municipalities. The goal, according to the event website, is to build relationships between police and their communities.

 

Middletown police were scheduled to have their event at the township municipal building. Officer Melissa Robison said Wednesday the decision to cancel it was made recently.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Related Content:

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As the U.S. Grows More Diverse, Most Police Departments Haven’t Kept Up

As the U.S. Grows More Diverse, Most Police Departments Haven’t Kept Up | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Of 467 local police departments with at least 100 officers that reported data for both 2007 and 2016, more than two-thirds became whiter relative to their communities between those years, according to a New York Times analysis of the data.

 

Nationwide, the share of white officers exceeds the share of the white population, and the gap has grown larger over time. Black and Hispanic groups remain underrepresented in the police force.

 

Researchers say it is difficult to draw firm conclusions about Black officers from the federal data. On the one hand, the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that the proportion of Black officers at local police departments across the country fell by half a percentage point, to 11.4 percent, between 2013 and 2016. But given the limitations of the data — all large departments were included but agencies with fewer than 100 officers were only sampled — researchers can’t say for sure how the numbers of Black officers have changed.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Regarding hiring diversity, Newtown Township Police Chief John Hearn assured the audience  at a Town Hall meeting that the Newtown Police Department is an “equal opportunity” employer. Thirty-eight (38) Police Departments throughout Bucks County use the consortium test to find qualified candidates to fill vacancies. 

 

Newtown Supervisor David Oxley asked if there was a way to get a more diverse group of applicants. Understanding that the Chief worked with many black officers while he was a Philadelphia cop, Mr. Oxley suggested that perhaps there is an opportunity for those officers to work in Newtown.

 

“Philadelphia is a whole different animal,” said the Chief. He was referring to the fact that they have a recruiting agency, which seems to be the norm for big city police forces. Unfortunately, Newtown does not have the staff and money to do the kind of recruiting that big cities do. The Chief mentioned that Newtown police jobs are listed on various social media sites and if there is no interest, he does not see a need to go out and try to pull in people who are not interested.

 

Census bureau data show Newtown is 87% white, whereas the Newtown police force is 100% white. 

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Federal Court Rules Pennsylvania COVID Business Closures & Limits on Gatherings Unconstitutional

Federal Court Rules Pennsylvania COVID Business Closures & Limits on Gatherings Unconstitutional | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

A federal judge has ruled that key components of Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus mitigation strategy are unconstitutional, including a statewide limit on how many Pennsylvanians can gather in one place.

 

In the 66-page ruling, U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV found that the Wolf administration’s policy limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings to 25 and 250 people, respectively, violates “the right of assembly enshrined in the First Amendment.”

 

Stickman also found Wolf and Health Secretary Rachel Levine’s stay-at-home orders and business closures, which have since been lifted, to be unconstitutional. Health experts widely considered temporary business closures and limits on operations to be necessary in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.

 

A spokesperson for Wolf said, “We’re aware of the ruling and are reviewing the decision.”

johnmacknewtowns insight:
In light of this decision, I believe Newtown Twp have less leg to stand on to continue having regular BOS meetings via Zoom that exclude residents.
 
Therefore, I propose we get back to having LIVE BOS meetings but still limit the seating - perhaps up it 30 residents. I'm concerned about the inability of residents being able to attend Zoom BOS meetings, especially when we have important decisions to make such as voting on the Wawa curative amendment, ESI final report, budget hearings, etc.
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Newtown Police Investigate Suspicious Letters Sent to Local Businesses Extorting Money

Newtown Police Investigate Suspicious Letters Sent to Local Businesses Extorting Money | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

On Saturday, August 8, 2020 and again on Thursday, August 13, 2020, Newtown Police responded to a report of two suspicious letters delivered by the U.S. postal service to two separate local businesses in Newtown Township. Both incidents were seeking the donation of funds to a cause listed on the letter and threatened harm to the establishment for failure to comply. Both incidents are being investigated by the Newtown Township Police and the Postal authorities in cooperation with the District Attorney’s office.  

 

Police are asking any Newtown or Wrightstown businesses receiving a similar type of correspondence to immediately report the incident to the Newtown Police Department. Due to the ongoing investigation, specifics of the businesses or the letter are not being released by the department.  

 

Fear and Intimidation has no place within the community of Newtown and Wrightstown townships and a thorough and complete investigation will be undertaken to attempt to identify and arrest the offenders of this situation. 

 

As a public service announcement, the Newtown Police advises all residents and businesses to utilize caution when receiving packages from unknown parties, no return addresses, restrictive markings, sealed with tape, misspelled words, unknown powder, excess postage, etc.       


johnmacknewtowns insight:

I'd like to know what "cause" the letter was promoting.

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