BY STACI WILSON
Anonymous letters, rumors and misinformation circulating in Silver Lake have raised concerns about the future of the township’s police force.
Those concerns prompted nearly 200 residents and others to last week’s supervisors meeting, Sept. 7.
But the issues surrounding the tension in Silver Lake remain unclear.
The police force has expressed a desire to unionize – a prospect that raised concerns about possible tax hikes from some at the meeting.
Most who spoke expressed support for the police department and others called for civility on both sides of the matter.
With the loss of the Franklin Twp. contract as of the end of July, the number of shifts in Silver Lake was decreased from 15 to 13 in August.
But Supervisor Francis Fruehan told the crowd they had no intension to dissolve the police department.
Resident Denise Koblo said, “It’s not whether we want police, it’s how much is it going to cost. When they showed up and asked for bargaining – it tied our hands.”
Ruth Johnson said she had been a resident of Silver Lake for 55 years and a victim of crime in the past. “They patrol our roads. Our roads are safer. If the issue is supporting police – giving them a living wage – we can squeeze it out. We need someone looking out for us locally,” Johnson said to applause.
“Everyone wants the same thing,” said one person in the crowd, “the issue is affording it.”
District Attorney Jason Legg expressed concern over some of the recent activity in the township. Legg said he had seen signs some reading “Support police” while others said “Export police.”
“People see how we’re acting over a union,” said Legg who said he was disheartened to see vandalized signs and disrespectful bumper stickers.
Legg addressed the possibility of an increased cost for taxpayers. “The cost is small compared to what those officers put on the line for you every day. These guys do a hell of a job.”
“All they want is to form a union,” said Legg who mentioned Forest City police are also unionized.
Legg also spoke about Silver Lake Sgt. Dennis Moore. “I coached him in baseball. I’m thrilled he could come back to his community for a job.”
The district attorney also told the attendees that crime has increased in the county in the past few years, stating he handled 380 adult cases in his first year as DA and had about 600 cases come to him in 2009. “It’s getting worse out there,” said Legg.