The West York Borough Police Department was formed in April of 1917 by unanimous motion of the Borough Council and Chief Burgess, with the intent and stated mission to “Patrol the streets of the Borough regularly.” That solitary Patrolman, John Altland, was issued a black jack, a badge, and a gun, and sent to work on evenings and weekends at a rate of 20¢ per hour.
Over the next century, the WYBPD expanded as the Borough grew, maintaining 24-hour coverage with a full-time staff of five (5) sworn officers (Chief, Detective Sergeant, Corporal, & 2 Patrolman) through the early 1980’s when a 3rd patrolman was added at a starting salary of $13,500 annually. The department served as a model borough police force however eventually fell behind as the law enforcement industry progressed and population exploded, leaving an understaffed agency that was not progressing, and coupled with societal issues & local political turmoil, had become distant and isolated from the resident population. This forced an unconventional approach to stability and peacekeeping that served as the foundation for change.
Our 2017 Centennial Anniversary has proven to be a year of transition and growth, with our agency reassessing and gauging the tactics, techniques and procedures that are needed to ensure that we continue to patrol the streets of the Borough regularly for the next 100 years.
Most of our efforts have been geared towards ensuring that we, as the ones the residents turn to for help are:
- Adequately able to provide protection.
- Postured to be community guardians.
- Welcomed by people into their homes & community.
We know that our influence is directly proportional to sum of these three elements, as they equal credibility, rapport, and a continued belief in the value of the relationship. Ultimately we achieved this through the following formula, which is based loosely on the US SOF Village Stability Operations “Shape” Phase employed in the Pashtun Tribal areas of Afghanistan:
Problem Analysis + Community Guardianship + “Game Changer” Methodology = Stabilization
Our ultimate goal was the creation of a resistance, an underground within the community that can be looked to as a force multiplier and supportive of our vision. The enemy is crime, blight, and dereliction within the neighborhoods. As we moved forward towards this goal, we remained ever cognizant of the following three (3) ground truths:
- The solution is in the problem- We need to figure out why someone would rather live next door to a drug dealer than to call the police and tell us he’s living there.
- We can’t shoot or arrest our way to victory.
- We, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police are the only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the intent of the community welfare (Peel, 1829).