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Crescent Residents Express Dismay at Rumors of Police Disbanding

Residents come out in support of local police after hearing word that officials have looked to disband the department.

Crescent commissioners shrugged off rumors that the township has taken steps to  to the neighboring . 

Residents poured into the township's municipal building, many expressing concern that commissioners in July met with Moon Police about the possibility of taking over patrols in Crescent. 

Crescent commissioners maintained that no immediate plans are underway to cut the community's police force. 

Crescent Police, who are in the midst of collective bargaining negotiations with township officials,

In that complaint, the union claimed Capt. Ken Longerman was  in October 2011 by commissioners, who said they were prepared to contract out services with Moon Police and disband his department if the union requested additional benefits. 

Click the media in this article to view the full 2011 police filing

Crescent Police  the unfair labor charge in April after the parties came to reconciliation, according to a representative from Teamsters Local 205, which represents Crescent Police. 

But in July, Crescent Commissioners Karen Patton and Joe Sabol met with Moon Township Police Chief Leo McCarthy and Capt. Greg Seamon. 

the commissioners requested information about Moon taking over policing duties in Crescent. 

A Cost-Cutting Measure

Commissioners, speaking publicly at the township's monthly meeting, described that discussion as private and unofficial.

Patton and Sabol requested that Moon submit patrolling cost estimates. Moon has not yet provided those requested figures, Patton said. 

Patton said rumors of a Crescent Police disbandment have "snowballed and gotten out of hand." She said the board planned to go public with the effort only after Moon Police submitted cost estimates for patrolling. 

Many learned of the impasse through social media or "Save Our Police" signs that now dot the township's roads. Judy Withee, wife of the late , told commissioners that ousting Crescent's police force would be "a travesty."

Several residents criticized the board for not notifying community members that they had approached Moon Police about patrols. 

"I can have a meeting with anyone I want," Patton said. "It was a private meeting until one of (Moon Township's) employees opened their mouth." 

Board members made no mention of the collective bargaining negotiations while addressing residents' concerns.

A Tightening Budget

Board President Bill Cook said rising costs and decreasing revenue necessitated the board's effort to reach out to Moon Township. 

"No one is looking to disband the police department," Cook said. "We're just looking at options." 

Cook said without drastic cost cuts, the township might have to institute a 2-mill tax hike, marking the first time in several years that the township has increased taxes. Crescent's current millage rate is 6.5.

“We’re trying to look out for you, the taxpayers,” he said.

Cook said the sluggish economy and confusion over Allegheny County property assessments have posed a "nightmare" for Crescent. 

"And since they started building these new schools, taxes have gone up how much," he told audience members, though the  has not raised taxes in three years. 

Policing costs mark one of Crescent's largest expenses, totaling some $501,739.29 in 2011, or 4.706 in tax millage, according to the township's own figures. 

Questions of Transparency

Residents complained that they have been kept in the dark about the dispute. 

Cook, who told those in attendance that only one individual has contacted the township regarding potential changes to Crescent's policing, urged residents to call him with matters of concern.

Patch on multiple occasions reached out to Cook by both phone and email and called the offices of township Solicitor Richard Start. Neither responded to requests for comment.

“We will be as transparent about this as we can,” Cook said. “We will answer your questions.”

On July 24, Crescent Manager Patience Eckhardt declined to comment on the matter. She said the township was "not able to answer any questions." 

Cook said the effort was not made public because "there's no information to share." 

He said though no immediate plans are underway to disband Crescent's police department, the addition of Moon Police, which has more resources and personnel on hand, could be a boon to the township. 

"We were told they come to nine out of ten calls out here anyway," Cook said. 

Former Crescent Police Chief Todd Miller, who resigned in January and attended the meeting, disputed that figure. 

"I don't see how that could be true," Miller said. "There's just no way."  

Crescent Mom August 24, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Thank you Patch, for this. The number of lies told at the meeting last night were astounding. We now have the record set straight. Crescent residents should keep this in mind when they cast votes in upcoming elections. I think there are a few public officials there who have worn out their welcome. Truth of the matter is, Crescent isn't as broke as they make themselves sound to be. There are contract talks going on, the police are union members and so they are viewed as the low-hanging fruit. It's all small town political games and it's just sad.
Jonathan Wright August 26, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Crescent Mom, you are correct, Crescent is not as broke as they make themselves out to be. Moon does not answer 9 out of 10 calls in Crescent, and anyone making that claim is completely lying. Fact of the matter is, I am glad you aren't fooled like so many other people seem to be!
Beth Muskovich August 26, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Crescent Mom, We lived in Cescent for ten years before a job move took us out of state. We come back and its the same old good old boy network with Cook leading the charge as usual. I don't live in Crescent nut right on the line and I KNOW FOR A FACT that Crscent Police have done their job up and beyond their call of duty. I also know for a fact that they recieved more than one phone call as I had people calling and leaving their names. He tried to do this years ago and it didn't fly then and I really hope for you guys it doesn't fly now! Good Luck Guys!
JW August 28, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Thank you Jenna. No the township isn't broke, yes we may have to pay a little more to keep our police, but let the residents decide, just like we did with the fire department. And YES this decision can be a referendum. . .another lie stated at the meeting. JW

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