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CHIEF SEES COMBINED FORCE ABSORBING 13 LANCASTER OFFICERS

A single Lancaster police force could absorb 13 of the village's 16 police officers if the village department were abolished, according to Town Police Chief Thomas E. Fowler.

And the other three officers could be kept on the village payroll for up to three years, Fowler proposed in a manpower analysis he sent village and town officials.

Fowler also suggested that one of the village officers being absorbed by the town department could be trained as a paramedic to speed emergency-response times.

A merged department also could have officers specializing in narcotics, youth problems and crime prevention, Fowler said in an exhaustive 24-page report.

"Neither the town nor the village can, independently, justify assignment of a full-time officer to any of (these) three assignments," Fowler wrote.

"However, in a merged or combined operation, we can well justify assignment of an officer to each of these types of police activity."

Village residents will vote in a referendum Tuesday on whether to abolish their Police Department.

The Village Board voted, 4-3, to abolish the department as of Dec. 31, subject to voter approval.

Those voting to abolish the department have cited a mandate to consolidate services, noting that the village police force costs $1.3 million a year to patrol 2 1/2 square miles.

Opponents question whether they will receive the same police services without the village force.

They also say that Mayor Arthur K. Posluszny, who led the abolition move, has a grudge against the village police.

Fowler compiled data on the actual calls for police service during three months in 1987 and 1988. He then compiled a staffing table with the minimum acceptable level of personnel to police the community and provide the response times expected by the public.

A new combined town police department could include 35 police officers, including 23 existing town positions and 12 of the 16 village officers. A 13th village officer also could be absorbed, as a paramedic.

Fowler, whose department would be enlarged significantly with the abolition of the village force, also used the report to correct what he termed "a great deal of misinformation" about the town Police Department's ability to respond to life-threatening medical emergencies in the village.

Village fire officials have questioned whether they would be able to handle emergency first-aid calls now answered by village police.

Fowler, in his report, replied that:

Town police officers have carried first-aid equipment, including oxygen, for more than 25 years.

Town police officers are familiar with the village; 12 town police officers live in the village, and five formerly worked for the village force.

Town police, who have worked with the volunteer ambulance service for years, could summon an ambulance as fast as the village police.

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