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Township Police Ask Advance Emergency Decree

SANATOGA PA – Lower Pottsgrove police have asked the township Board of Commissioners to consider giving the department the ability to declare a “local emergency” if deemed necessary during the Sept. 26-27 (2015; Saturday and Sunday) visit of Pope Francis to the Philadelphia area.

Board members have not yet granted the request, which apparently requires an official motion and commissioners’ approving vote, but said they may consider it during their Sept. 24 (Thursday) meeting in the municipal building, 2199 Buchert Rd.

It’s a just-in-case measure, police Sgt. Wil James explained last week in the absence of Chief Michael Foltz.

Foltz, who was unable to attend the board’s Sept. 8 meeting, is seeking advance authorization for the declaration simply to be prepared for the unforeseen, James reported. It would give the department and its officers more flexibility in responding to specific problems if they arise, “so we could act on things quickly without a lot of paperwork,” James added.

Lower Pottsgrove is among western Montgomery County municipalities that are expecting an influx of tourists for the weekend. Most have booked hotel rooms across Pottstown and Limerick, where rates are less expensive than those in Center City or closer to Philadelphia. They may create added traffic problems on U.S. Route 422 and other area highways in commuting to events connected with the papal visit.

Foltz has played a continuing role in regional law enforcement planning for the activities. More than a hundred local and county officials met again Friday (Sept. 11) at the county’s Public Safety Training Campus in Conshohocken to further discuss emergency service coordination over the weekend; former West Pottsgrove police chief and township Commissioner Earl Swavely was among those who attended.

Authorities reportedly are taking extra measures to ensure public safety, including:

  • Assigning 1,200 state troopers from throughout Pennsylvania to duties in the Philadelphia region;
  • Preparing a variety of detours and other plans for road closures that are scheduled as the pope travels from event to event during his stay;
  • Police patrols along the Schuylkill River Trail using bicycles and all-terrain vehicles; and
  • Having bomb squad and hazardous materials response teams on standby.

Related (to the papal visit):

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Sept. 8 meeting):

Photo from Google Images

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