Malvern Police Chief Mark Ercole will return to the East Whiteland Police Department when the contract that brought him to the borough expires in June.
At a Borough Council meeting Tuesday night, Malvern Mayor Jerry McGlone said that Ercole had "respectfully requested that the borough not re-up the contract." Ercole was an EWPD lieutenant when the borough and East Whiteland Township struck a one-year contract in 2012 for his services as police chief.
The borough is pursuing a similar contract with East Whiteland Township to bring another EWPD officer on as chief, but no plans have been finalized.
"I think [Malvern Police Department] is running well now under Mark, and I'd like to see that continue," McGlone said.
Malvern Police Officer John McNamee, who spoke from the audience, agreed with that assessment, but suggested the borough should not limit its search for a new police chief to East Whiteland officers.
Rumors of a referendum
The topic of the police chief was not on the meeting agenda Tuesday. Resident Patti Rossiter raised the issue when she asked if there was any truth to the rumor that voters would be asked via a referendum on the May 21 ballot whether they are in favor of disbanding the borough police department.
Borough Council President Woody Van Sciver said that a ballot question had been discussed, but there are no plans to implement it.
He later added that, if a decision like disbanding the police department was being seriously considered, he would be a strong proponent of using a referendum.
"That way, the people can speak," he said.
A familiar topic in the borough
The fate of the Malvern Police Department has arisen as a contentious issue multiple times in recent years. In 2012, a public meeting to discuss the matter had to be moved to a nearby church to make room for all the attendees.
That meeting led to the termination of Police Chief Michael McMahon and the contract with East Whiteland to bring Ercole in as acting chief. The contract, totaling roughly $150,000 per year paid to the township for salary and benefits, took effect June 6, 2012, and terminates June 30, 2013.
East Whiteland Township Manager Terry Woodman confirmed that she has been in discussions with Van Sciver regarding a new contract with a different officer.
"From my perspective, that's the right solution," McGlone said Tuesday night. "I think Mark has done a wonderful job with the police department. We're working much better with our neighboring municipalities, which is very important to me. ... It's a department that has embraced Mark and his leadership and we would expect the same out of whoever is going to [replace him as chief]."
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