City officials rejected a proposal that would have empowered to local police officers to begin performing commercial vehicle inspections.
The Chambersburg Borough Council voted on the issue during its regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 25. Council president William McLaughlin said the proposal would have had a negative impact on business as well as other policing efforts in the community of roughly 20,000 in south-central Pennsylvania.
“A large part of the business we do is warehousing and distribution, because of our location on Interstate 81,” McLaughlin told Land Line in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “Anything that interferes with the free-flow of traffic through the community is detrimental to the economic growth of our community.”
Chambersburg’s proposal would have allowed two police officers to become certified to perform Level I Standard Inspections and Level III Drivers Only inspection, performing an estimated 10 inspections per month. The plan was put forth by mayor Pete Lagiovane, and had the backing of police chief, David Arnold. Lagiovane had previously said he believed the proposal was needed to increase public safety due to the high volume of truck traffic in and around the borough.
“We (the council) do not feel that we have the right now to dedicate them to truck inspections,” McLaughlin said. “We have a much greater problem that requires enforcement with cars speeding, or running traffic lights and stoplights as opposed to safety issues with trucks. … We’d prefer to see police resources going into patrol – feet on the street, literally – in targeted areas. And anything that would detract from that is not in the best interest of the community.”
While the Chambersburg council was pondering the inspection proposal, the neighboring community of Mercersburg, 25 miles to the southwest, last week abandoned its efforts to have a local police officer perform truck inspections, following an outcry from residents and local business owners. Mercersburg Mayor James Zeger cited a high volume of complaints from business owners in the community as his reason to stop the inspections.
“The rancor and the discord in the community was at a high level, and that’s not what I wanted to have in our small town,” Zeger said when announcing the inspections would be stopped. “This was done in the spirit of trying to get through this. We’re going to put this behind us, move on, and do things right for our community.”
McLaughlin said he believes his fellow council members were influenced by the events of Mercersburg.
“I think every member of council looked at that situation and at the divisiveness that was created by that situation,” he said. “We don’t see the need to create a problem where none exists… We do not want Chambersburg to get a reputation as a ‘Truck Trap. If (a truck driver) hits one of our poles we’ll have the state police come in and do the inspection. The job of our police department is to serve and protect our community.”
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