The Patrol Division is the largest division within the Department. It consists of well-trained officers whose duty it is to patrol the Township of Spring and enforce the law. The Patrol Division is the most visible section within the police force. The Patrol Division consists of five platoons that operate on a 12-hour schedule, providing the township with 24-hour police coverage 7 days a week. The shifts run from 7am and 7pm, while the split shift runs from 3pm and 3am. Each officer is assigned to a specific district within the township in order to provide adequate police coverage for our residents.
Each platoon is supervised by a Patrol Sergeant and is primarily responsible for handling a wide variety of calls, including medical emergencies, domestic situations, helping stranding motorists, burglaries, traffic enforcement, or any other requests for service. They maintain a strong presence within the community and receive regular training to further their skills and stay current with any new policing techniques, crime trends, and new technology.
The Patrol Division also consists of a School Resource Officer that is assigned to the Wilson School District. The SRO is responsible for all juvenile matters and incidents that occur within the Wilson School District.
Criminal Investigation Division
The Criminal Investigation Division (C.I.D.) of the Spring Township Police Department is primarily responsible for the investigation of matters that cannot be easily resolved by a patrol officer within the shift the officer is working at the time the crime is reported. The CID is led by Lieutenant Ritchey Troutman who oversees four detectives.
Each detective has been cross designated as a Berks County Detective by District Attorney John Adams. This enables the detectives to work on cases that may go across the Township’s boundary into other municipalities within Berks County. In addition, each member is part of the County’s major crimes task force and can assist either County Detectives or another municipal agency’s detectives with investigations.
The Department has seen a rise in the number of complaints about drug dealing and drug use within the Township. As a result one of the detectives has been assigned to primarily work on narcotic type investigations. This detective works closely with other law enforcement agencies on the local, state, and federal level in an effort to reduce this type of activity and crimes that occur as a result of it.
Traffic Safety Division
The Police Department created a Traffic Safety Unit to assist with keeping the roads as safe as possible. The Traffic Safety Unit is dedicated to promoting and improving traffic safety through education, data information analysis, and enforcement of the traffic related laws.
Among the tools and equipment that the Traffic Safety Unit utilizes is a Speed Monitoring Radar Trailer. The trailer can be brought to neighborhoods, school zones, construction zones and other locations to help promote compliance with the speed limit. The trailer is an unmanned portable, self-contained speed display unit that is towed to the desired location. Once deployed, it displays speeds of oncoming vehicles on a highly visible LED display. A speed limit sign mounted on the unit reminds drivers of the speed limit. This unit also has the capability to record the speed data for future traffic problem analysis. The trailer gives drivers the opportunity to see how fast they are actually going and slow down, without receiving a citation.
Additionally, the Traffic Unit has invested in a Kustom Signals “Stealth Stat”. This small computer can be unobtrusively mounted on a pole to gather data on the frequency of traffic and speeds on any given road.
From the resulting report, officers can obtain details of the lowest and highest speeds that occurred during this time period, identify the average speed, and determine whether or not there is a higher preponderance of motorists traveling above the posted speed limit on any given street. This will allow them to identify the difference between actual and perceived speeding problems, and to focus their prevention efforts where they are most needed.
Traffic calming signs are also available through the Traffic Enforcement Unit. Citizens of the Township may contact the Unit and request the signs. Two different versions of the signs are available for loan through the Police Department.
The signs can be placed curbside as a reminder to motorists to check their speed and comply with the speed limit.
The Spring Township Police Department is presently cooperating with other Departments in Berks County in an effort to increase the safety on the roads involving commercial motor vehicles. The collaborative effort involves monthly safety inspection details. These details include weighing and inspecting trucks, and their operators, for violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Every month a department will host the event and the assisting departments will send officers to the host jurisdiction for the inspection and weigh detail.
Officers that assist during these events have all received training and certification in accordance with to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Motor Carrier Safety Alliance Program (MCSAP). This is a two-week training course specific to the Federal regulations specific to the trucking industry. Officers that have completed the program are able to inspect both the vehicle and driver for safety violations. Officers also receive training through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) during a four-day school for the measuring and weighing of commercial motor vehicles. Officers that successfully complete the training courses also receive the designation of Qualified Commonwealth Employees, which enables them to stop commercial vehicles on a systematic basis, rather than on a violation or probable cause basis.
The Traffic Safety Unit also assists the County of Berks District Attorney’s Office Forensic Unit as part of the countywide Motor Vehicle Crash Investigation Team. Officers participate in a “call out” procedure when a serious motor vehicle accident occurs. This will offer the agency where the collision has occurred officers who have the experience, training, and equipment necessary to properly reconstruct the collision and determine the cause and origin of the collision.
All vehicles that are parked on the streets within the Township must comply with the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. Specifically, Section 3712, regulates that all vehicles parked upon the roads must have a current inspection; a current registration; and, must be in a drivable condition.
When vehicles are found to be parked on the roadway in violation of the Vehicle Code, Officers will affix a warning notice on the windshield of the vehicle. The brightly visible warning notice will contain a specific notation as to the violation concerning the vehicle. The warning notice will also notify the owner of the vehicle of the date that the vehicle must be removed from the roadway. If the vehicle is not removed from the roadway by the listed date, additional notifications will be sent to the vehicle owner, and ultimately the vehicle will be towed by a State Salvor.
Private property owners may also contact the Traffic Safety Unit for processing abandoned vehicle that remain on the property without the owners consent. The property owner must send specific notices to the vehicle owner prior to the vehicle being removed at the direction of the Police Department. Any member of the Traffic Safety Unit can assist a property owner with the process that must be followed and provide paperwork that will assist with the removal of the vehicle.
Special Services Truck
The first Special Services Truck was created in 2005 in order to assist several different units within the Department. The van was acquired from the Township’s Sewer Department and converted to the Special Services Truck after several long hours of work by Sgt. Van Etten, Sgt. Peterson, Ptlm. Heere, and Ptlm. Schappell.
After four years in service, the Police Department out-grew the van and was in need of a larger truck that was capable of carrying a greater amount of equipment and supplying more power and lighting.
In 2010, the Police Department placed a “new” truck in service in order to respond to large-scale incidents. The twenty-year old truck initially was owned by the Lincoln Park Fire Company. It was then transferred to the Township of Spring Volunteer Fire Department with the merger of equipment. When the Fire Department further consolidated equipment, the truck was placed for sale. The Police Department, and Township officials, saw this as an opportunity to continue to use its equipment to the fullest extent.
The truck was modified slightly for its new role for law enforcement response. The unit is equipped with all the latest evidence collection equipment, as well as photography and crimes scene items. The unit is also equipped with accident reconstruction equipment, commercial vehicle inspection equipment, portable lighting, and computer and communication equipment.
If purchased new by the Police Department, the costs incurred to the Township could have exceeded $500,000. By reutilizing equipment within the Township, the Police Department was able to place the Special Services Truck into service with an expenditure of less than $45,000 – a savings of nearly half a million dollars.