News

Gettysburg hires third consultant to review police

Written by Lillian Reed/Hanover Evening Sun | May 16, 2016 8:35 AM
screenshotbodycam.png

This screenshot shows 28-year-old Derek Twyman in his car during a May police stop in Gettysburg as Gettysburg Borough Police Officer Christopher Folster aims his Taser at him.

(Gettysburg) -- Despite the weeks of criticism over the Gettysburg Borough's decision to hire two consultants to review the police department last fall, council members voted to hire a third one.

Council voted 5-2, with members AmyBeth Hodges and Scot Pitzer casting the nays, to hire W. Ronald Smeal, a police management expert who has done consulting work for a number of departments in Pennsylvania, including in Adams County.

Council hired former Pittsburgh police chief Robert McNeilly Jr. and legal expert Neva L. Stotler as consultants last fall to review the police department after a video captured by police officer Christopher Folster's body camera was released online. The footage shows Folster using a Taser to subdue Derek J. Twyman, who had refused orders to get out of his car. Twyman was later acquitted of resisting arrest, a success he credited to a review of the footage during his trial.

The costs of hiring McNeilly and Stotler generated some controversy when council members revealed that their fees had surpassed an original cap of $7,500 to total more than $10,000.

Smeal will be paid $75 per hour with no cap on how much the borough will spend on his services, borough manager Charles Gable said Friday.

Gable estimates that Smeal will be working on the project one day per week for the next six months, he said Friday.

Details over Smeal's duties were vague, but Gable said he will assist council, the mayor and the chief in determining best practices for the police department.

Pitzer deferred questions about Smeal's work to Gable but said that he might have been open to voting in favor of hiring the consultant if not for the cost, he said Friday.

"I just want to know how the borough is going to pay for it," Pitzer said of the hire. "My main priority is about streamlining costs and being accountable for taxpayer dollars."

Pitzer is always open-minded about having someone with no connection to the borough take a look at how things are operating, he said. Still, his preference would be to table the expense until next year, he said.

AmyBeth Hodges, who also voted against hiring Smeal, did not support McNeilly and Stotler's review of the police department last fall. She announced in March that she would vote against any attempts to punish or reprimand the police officers involved in Twyman's arrest.

Following the same logic, she did not support Smeal's hire either, she said.

"I wasn't a supporter of the first review because it was an unnecessary expense and caused more problems than it solved," Hodges said Friday. "To do it a second time, I wasn't given a good explanation as to how we are supposed to pay for it."

Gable signed the contract with Smeal this week and said he anticipates the consultant will begin work with the police department soon.

This story is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and The Evening Sun

Published in Adams County, News

Tagged under , , , , , , , ,

back to top

Give Now

Estate Planning

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »