The winds of change are blowing at the Youngsville Borough Police Department.
On Monday, Police Chief Todd Mineweaser asked borough council to approve a resolution outlining the procedures for warrantless arrests on summary offenses. He said it would be the first of many policies to be brought before council.
Council voted to approve the resolution.
The resolution is standard in most municipalities that have a police department in Pennsylvania and brought Youngsville's council up to date with state legislation on the issue passed in 1995.
According to Mineweaser, both a recent training session he attended and a regular audit performed recently on juvenile procedures indicated the borough needed to put the policy in place.
"Very rarely do we take someone into custody for a summary (offense)," Mineweaser said. "Sometime the only thing you can do is bring them back here (to the department), detain them, calm them down and call someone to get them."
According to Mineweaser, he has been slowly wading through department policies and borough laws to bring the department in line with policy recommendations for departments seeking Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association accreditation.
"I'm more concerned about getting the policies updated and in place to improve the department than I am about accreditation, though," Mineweaser emphasized. "I've been working on this stuff for two years just picking at it."
Mineweaser said he has been consulting with the City of Warren Police Department, which was accredited in 2010, on the issue.
Mineweaser said the Chiefs of Police Association has an extensive list of policies and procedures a department should have in place and he's trying to utilize his time wisely in approaching the changes.
"Bigger departments, they've got enough people they can just put somebody on it (accreditation) or break up the work between people. In a smaller department, it's all on me and I have my regular duties, too," Mineweaser said. "I'm not going right down (the Chiefs Association list). I'm going at the important ones first. Pursuits, use of force, disciplinary procedure those kinds of things have to take priority (over other policies). I think it's going to take me a couple of years, honestly."
Mineweaser said the process can take one and a half to two years in departments where someone is assigned to work on it full-time. He said he is considering asking for council approval to hire a consultant to help with updating policy next year, but said the request is dependent on how much he's accomplished by then.
"I'm learning a lot. One of the trainings I went to, an instructor even said, 'You have to be really well-rounded in a small department.' You have to know a little of everything," Mineweaser said. "I have to make sure the officers here read it, know it and understand it, too."
According to Mineweaser, the department is passing its regular audits without problems. It has had three so far this year on issues from procedure to funding, but he'll feel better knowing the policies are current.
"We're getting there one day at a time, one chapter at a time and one policy at a time," Mineweaser said. "Once these are in place, I'll be able to sleep better."