Bob Walker smoked most of his life. After retiring from Harley-Davidson in 2008, he quit. Walker won the 5k race in the York County Senior Games. Paul Kuehnel
The York White Rose Run, scheduled for Sept. 16, was canceled this week because of traffic safety concerns related to a lack of manpower. The race had been going on for 40 years.
This was the first year York City Police were not able to staff the event. City police can work overtime providing traffic control at city events such as the York White Rose Run. But York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said that with limited manpower, and staff already taking on overtime assignments, the department had to scale back.
“What we’ve been doing with our vendors is working out alternatives with them,” Kahley said.
The alternative Kahley suggests is contracting with a third party that provides traffic control for events. Kahley said it’s cheaper to hire these organizations than to pay overtime to officers.
But that might not always be the case with large events.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of York & Adams County Executive Director Mike Smith said this was the first year his organization was in charge of the race. He budgeted for the city police services, but that budget fell short when a third party came to look at the 5-mile course.
“We did look into a firm,” Smith said. “It took a lot of men, according to their regulations, and it was just too expensive.”
While the services may be cheaper, the company needed to employ about three times the amount of workers compared to the number of city police needed to staff the race, Smith said. There was also a minimum amount of time the contractors needed to work, which was longer than the two-hour race.
Smith said he was also concerned that third party workers don’t have the same authority police do. With road closures and busy intersections, he wasn’t as confident a third party could offer the same structure as a police officer.
“You just lose a little bit when you don’t have an officer,” Smith said.
Kahley said York City Police have had some vendors use third parties in the past, and the trend will most likely continue as traffic control at such events isn’t as much of a priority for the department.
“Our first job is to provide police officers for the City of York,” Kahley said. “If we don’t have enough manpower to work those other events, like races, we still want them to go on.”
Smith said he understands and sympathizes with police, but he’s disappointed the event was canceled. After crunching the numbers, he realized Big Brothers Big Sisters would lose money by holding the York White Rose Run. Now, he’s not sure if the event will continue next year.
“I love this city, and it’s a great city, and I really wish we could have pulled this off. But unfortunately, it was not in the cards.”
Also of interest, a gallery of photos below: