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Cops, Courts & Fire -Bensalem Township

First Responders Complete Jail Diversion Behavioral Crisis Training

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Last month police officers  and first responders from around Bucks County were a part of the 25th class to complete Crisis Intervention Training (CIT).

Bucks CIT is a collaboration between several dedicated entities and seeks to educate and inform law enforcement officials how to effectively communicate with persons in the community who are experiencing an emotional crisis or those living with mental health challenges.

The training seeks to increase safe outcomes for all involved, officials say.

The Bucks CIT Taskforce is comprised of representatives from Lenape Valley Foundation (LVF), Northampton Township Police Department, Middletown Township Police Department, Warrington Township Police Department, Upper Makefield Township Police Department, the Bucks County Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Programs (Bucks BH/DP), the Bucks County Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Bucks), and the Bucks County Community Support Program (Bucks CSP).

LVF, Northampton PD, Bucks BH/DP, and NAMI Bucks have been the driving forces behind the development, implementation, and continuity of Bucks CIT since its inception in 2007, said Nicole Wolf, CIT Co-Chair and Director of Education and Training at LVF.

“We’ve had the unwavering support of the Bucks County Commissioners, and District Attorney Matt Weintraub” Wolf said.

The CIT Co-Chair went on to explain the efficacy for CIT and its value to communities, those experiencing a mental health issue when interacting with police officers.

The 2021 CIT Class
Credit: Lenape Valley Foundation

There is an abundance of research from across the country (and beyond) proving the efficacy of CIT.  Specifically, Bucks CIT participated in a study conducted by University of Pittsburgh  Medical Center (UPMC). The study aimed to determine:

  1. The degree to which CIT programs in Pennsylvania maintain fidelity to the Core Elements of the model.  Bucks CIT was one of 7 CIT programs across the state that participated in this portion of the study.
  2. The effectiveness of CIT programs in Pennsylvania.  Bucks was one of 4 CIT programs across the state that participated in this portion of the study.

The results showed:

    • Bucks CIT has implemented into the training and program the vast majority of elements that are defined as “essential” for fidelity to the model.
    • Bucks-CIT trained officers are less likely to go “hands on” than non-CIT trained officers, subsequently reducing the risk of injury to all parties.
    • Bucks CIT-trained officers are more likely that non-CIT trained officers to resolve a “mental subject” call with a non-criminal justice disposition even if charges are filed.  In other words, regardless of whether the behavior led to charges, if mental illness was a factor in the call, the person was more likely to be directed to treatment rather than incarceration at the time of the incident.

Wolf said over 600 local law enforcement officers and supervisors have completed the training (including officers from every one of the 42 police municipalities in Bucks County, the Sherriff’s Department, Probation & Parole, PA State Police – Dublin & Trevose Barracks, as well as some non-Bucks County law enforcement entities, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Proudly she offered, “Our first 40-hour training took place in 2009 and we have graduated 25 classes of Bucks CIT Officers since then”

This year’s class included police and first responders form the departments listed below she said.

  • Bensalem EMS
  • Bristol Township
  • Falls Township
  • Lower Makefield Township
  • Middletown Township
  • Morrisville Borough
  • Northampton Township
  • Newtown Township
  • Park Rangers
  • PA State Police – Dublin
  • PA State Police – Trevose
  • Penndel Borough
  • Plumstead Township
  • Sherriff’s Dept
  • Solebury Township
  • Warrington Township

To learn more about the Bucks County Crisis Intervention Team click here. Or you can visit the the Bucks County link here

 

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Cops, Courts & Fire -Bensalem Township

Bensalem Man Charged for Possessing Kiddie Porn

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A Bensalem man stands accused of uploading and saving pornographic images involving children to his Google account.

Michael Dunbar, 55, was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Michael W. Gallagher Thursday morning on one felony count of child pornography and one count of criminal use of communication facility with his bail set at 10 percent of $300,000.00.

According to Bensalem Police,  on Thursday, April 25, 2024, a cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was received.  The tip referenced a particular Google account that had uploaded and saved numerous videos depicting child pornography, including prepubescent boys and girls engaging in sexual acts with each other. Detectives began an investigation and were able to determine that the owner/user of the Google account was Dunbar.

On Thursday, June 20, 2024, Bensalem Detectives served a search warrant on Dunbar’s residence.  The suspect was interviewed, and he allegedly admitted to intentionally uploading child pornography into his Google account after finding the videos on the Dark Web.

Bensalem authorities did not comment about the results of the  executed search warrant.

Dunbar was unable to post bail as of early Friday morning and was remanded to Bucks County Correctional Facility. He is currently scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on July 2 and has no attorney of record presently, according to court records.

 

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Cops, Courts & Fire -Bensalem Township

Wanna Help Police Find a Way to Cool This Alleged Thief’s Jets Off ?

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It takes a certain kind of chutzpah too walk out of a big box home improvement store with just under $1000.00 in merchandise and leave without paying and what appears to be a grin on your face.

That is the case, Bensalem Township Police say happened last week at the Home Depot. 900 Rockhill Drive on June 10, 2024. and reported at approximately 7:30 p.m.

An unknown white or Hispanic male entered the store and selected two air conditioner units, a Dewalt Saw and a Milwaukee grinder, valued at $946.00. The suspect, exited the store without paying for the merchandise and fled the area in a black sedan, possibly a Mercedes Benz, Bensalem authorities say.

Please look at the photos closely. If you have any information regarding “this bandit’s” identity, please submit an anonymous tip here or contact Bensalem Police at 215-633-3719.

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Cops, Courts & Fire -Bensalem Township

Bensalem Twp Council To Vote On Volunteer Fire Company Consolidation Monday Night

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Just under two years ago at a Bristol Borough Council meeting, officials were getting an update on the then planned fire company consolidation effort by Steve Reeves,  president of the Bristol Borough Fire Association. At the time, talk of consolidating fire companies in the borough and Bristol Township was a hot topic.

During his presentation Reeves mentioned consolidation talks of the Bensalem fire company volunteer services were also in progress. At the time tidbit was not in the public domain.

Credit: Submitted

Now after two years of planning, the Bensalem Township Council will vote on a resolution to form The Bensalem Volunteer Fire Department at its next meeting Monday night.

If the resolution is passed, the six legacy fire companies, including Cornwells, Eddington, Newport, Nottingham, Trevose, and Union, will be consolidated into one volunteer fire department. This consolidation plan is necessary to ensure adequate fire/emergency response within the township because of reduced membership amongst the current companies, a press release announced late Friday afternoon.

Credit: Submitted

Reeves knew what he was talking about at the time. Lower Bucks Source in the following days reached out to area first responder sources, officials and Bensalem area volunteer firefighters. No one anywhere would go on or off the record. LBS was directed, by Battalion Chief/Fire Marshal Robert Sponheimer, to the Deputy Director of Public Safety Robert Race who politely declined to respond to a request for comment at the time.

Credit: Submitted

Late last year, according to a Lower Bucks Times report, Bensalem officials spoke rather openly about dwindling volunteer numbers.  This led William McVey, director of public safety, to ask for council approval to apply for a SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant through FEMA, which was subsequently approved in November by council.

This past February the township announced the hiring of Mark Antozzeski as the first career Fire Chief in Bensalem history. He is leading the volunteer fire services, as well as Bensalem Fire Rescue, career staff. McVey told Bensalem Patch.com the hiring was an important piece of the consolidation process.

 

Credit: Submitted

Earlier this month,  Nottingham Fire Department Chief Ron Harris was named the Bensalem Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief as part of the consolidation effort, according to published report. 

Credit: Submitted

Beginning Friday evening, shortly after receiving the Bensalem announcement on the expected consolidation vote, first responder sources Lower Bucks Source contacted said that back in 2022 when first contacted they declined to comment because the topic was sensitive in nature and a real possibility of backlash existed and concerns about “sabotaging” the process were also omnipresent. Those sources again declined to comment on the record.

Consolidation Efforts in Bristol Borough & Bristol Township

In February, Bristol Borough voted to consolidate their volunteer fire services. Prior to that step the borough approved applying for a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program Grant in the amount of $1.5 to build a new fire house at a yet to be determined location.

As far back as February of 2022, a smaller plan in size and scope was being discussed in Bristol Township involving Newportville Fire Company #1, Third District Fire Company with career fire personnel from the township which came off the heels of  a fire study completed in 2020.  That plan is no longer in play, fire officials say. Third District Fire Chief Howard McGoldrick said it’s a “complete mystery” why Newportville ultimately decided against the discussed move and merger.

” Volunteer fire services in Bucks County are changing right before our eyes” one first responder said last year.

Credit: Submitted

In each of the consolidation efforts, public safety, declining volunteer numbers and increasing costs have been cited repeatedly by officials publicly.

“It’s just not sustainable anymore financially for fire companies, the municipalities they serve, and taxpayers. It’s consolidate or die”, a high ranking first responder source said Friday.

Bensalem Council is expected to pass the resolution with its vote tonight.

Editor’s Note:  Each of the images in this story come from the volunteer fire companies serving Bensalem Township.

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