Chief talks ar­rest or­di­nance

The Willow Grove Guide - - FRONT PAGE - By Caitlin Burns

cburns@mont­gomerynews.com

Up­per More­land Po­lice Depart­ment could soon ar­rest some of­fend­ers with­out a war­rant if the town­ship passes a war­rant­less ar­rest or­di­nance. The board of com­mis­sion­ers dis­cussed the or­di­nance and how it works in other town­ships dur­ing the pub­lic health and safety com­mit­tee meet­ing July 15.

The or­di­nance, which was pro­posed by po­lice Chief S. Michael Mur­phy last month, would al­low po­lice to ar­rest in­di­vid­u­als for dis­or­derly con­duct, pub­lic drunk­en­ness, ob­struct­ing high­ways and un­der­age drink­ing, which usu- ally only war­rants a ci­ta­tion. Po­lice al­ready do this, but Mur­phy said there is no or­di­nance “on the books.”

He said un­der cer­tain cir­cum­stances of­fend­ers could pose a threat to ei­ther them­selves or some­one in the com­mu­nity and the po­lice would like the op­tion of ar­rest­ing th­ese in­di­vid­u­als. They would then be held un­til they no longer are a dan­ger.

“I know that they’re al­ready do­ing this,” Com­mis­sioner Don Warner said. “I have com­plete FRn­fiGHnFH WKDW LI WKH FKLHI UHFRP­mended this, it’s a good thing.”

Town­ship So­lic­i­tor Kate Harper said the state has sev­eral guide- lines that need to be in place be­fore the town­ship can pass this or­di­nance, in­clud­ing enough space and RI­fiFHUV WR wDWFK WKRVH EURuJKW Ln. Harper said with th­ese four of­fenses, peo­ple could be­come ag­gres­sive or even de­pressed to the point RI VuLFLGDO, VR Dn RI­fiFHU nHHGV WR watch them at all times.

Town­ship Man­ager David Dodies also as­sured the board that the po­lice depart­ment con­formed to state guide­lines since the town­ship and the neigh­bor­ing ar­eas cur­rently share space if one be­comes over­crowded.

Com­mis­sioner Kevin Spear­ing said he wanted to look into how the town­ship’s in­sur­ance com­pany felt about the or­di­nance and if any other town­ships had re­jected the same pro­posal.

“I don’t re­ally see a prob­lem with it,” Spear­ing said. “I’d just like to see if there’s any town­ships that have re­jected this for any rea­son.”

At the June com­mit­tee meet­ing, Mur­phy as­sured the board ar­rest­ing in­di­vid­u­als for nor­mally cited RIIHnVHV wRuOG nRW EH WKH fiUVW VWHS when an in­ci­dent arises. In­stead, it would be used as a last re­sort if an of­fender ap­pears to in­tend to harm them­selves or an­other.

A pub­lic hear­ing for the or­di­nance will be held Aug. 5 be­fore the reg­u­lar board meet­ing.

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