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Macungie Council Votes to Install GPS in Police Cars

The reopening of the issue is a surprise at Monday's council meeting.

Though it was not on the meeting agenda, Macungie Council on Monday voted to equip borough police cars with private GPS units. Mayor Rick Hoffman introduced the topic during the "Mayor's Report" segment of the meeting.

The vote, with a motion initiated and seconded by Council members Linn Walker and Gregory Hutchison, respectively, was split. Walker, Hutchison, Christopher Becker and Council President Jean Nagle voted in favor. Council member Debra Cope voted against. Councilmen Joseph Sikorski and David Boyko were absent.

Council voted against installing the units in April. The reason then was that it was going to cost thousands of dollars to install and use the units for the length of the proposed two-year contract.

This time, however, the contract is for one year, and Hoffman said he has raised the entire amount necessary -- $1,408 -- through donations. Walmart donated $1,000 and the rest came from individuals.

The units are to be monitored by two people: Hoffman and Macungie Police Chief Edward Harry. With the use of a password supposedly known to only the two, the system can be monitored from any computer or smart phone, Hoffman said.

Hoffman's reopening of the issue came as a surprise since it had already been defeated once, and though Cope said she wanted the motion withdrawn so she could refer to her notes on the topic before voting on it, the motion stood.

Hoffman repeated his claim that a GPS system he can monitor is necessary because of "all the complaints" he has received about Macungie police speeding at times and at other times parking for hours on end.

Cope said that there has never been a documented complaint about any Macungie police officer, to which Hoffman responded that residents don't document complaints because they fear retaliation from the police.

Borough resident Marvin Moyer protested the move during public comment. However, the mayor reminded him of last week's court decision before answering him by saying, "I am the chief," and "I am in charge," at least twice during Moyer's statement.

Chief Harry said Monday night in a telephone interview that he has no problem with any kind of GPS system being installed in police cars. Indeed, Macungie police cars already have at least one kind which has been installed in all Lehigh County police cars by the county.

But, Harry said, he cannot comment on these units because he knows nothing about them or the monitoring process.

"The problem with any GPS is security," Harry said. Unless the monitoring is secure -- limiting where it takes place and who has access -- it compromises not only the safety of police officers but also the safety of residents of Macungie, he said.

If a person with ulterior motives knows where a police officer is, he or she also knows where the officer is not, Harry said.

Honesty January 08, 2013 at 01:50 PM
Wow, what an undermindeded group of people. That sure sounded like a set up to me. First, the topic of GPS's was left off the agenda, then you have Mr. Sikorski and Mr. Boyko not at the meeting who voted against the GPS's the first time around. But the real kicker is Mr. Becker who seems to appear to play both sides; especially when he has an agenda. What a disgrace to our community that our leaders were so willing to put our police officers, residents, and business owner's safety at risk with the use a "password" that anybody can use. The Mayor is a dishonest person and so are members of council. Shame on all of you!
Responsible Citizen January 08, 2013 at 04:06 PM
WELL SAID "Honesty"!!! Our sentiments exactly!! These clowns in office MUST go!! It will not be long!! There are several people running for office that will cleanse this group of their unbelievable sinister, vidictive tactics and motives. Hope they get this all out of their system since their tenure is short-lived!!
Robert Sentner January 08, 2013 at 05:34 PM
What a JOKE...... man election time can't come soon enough.
linen23 January 08, 2013 at 08:31 PM
Mayor Hoffman reportedly considering a move to Florida. Might I recommend Cuba? And please take your children with you.
linen23 January 08, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Hmm. Undocumented complaints? Are they really complaints then? Or mere figments of Mayor Hoffman's mind which furthers his agenda?
Michele K January 08, 2013 at 10:48 PM
Agreed. This mayor obviously has a big beef with police and it's ridiculous that he claims an undocumented complaint should allow him to monitor all the police from his phone. We can also wonder, what is it Mr. Mayor hopes to get away with while he knows police are otherwise occupied?
ron January 08, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Sneaky, conniving, underhanded take your pick they all fit. From the past discussions we know most people are against the private gps units. The issue was not on the agenda and there were two council members missing but hey this is Macungie so what else would you expect from our crazy council. The truly amazing thing is that the cars already have gps units from the county so this money that could be spent on many worthwhile things is being spent on a service we already have the only difference is that the mayor will now have access to information that he could have now simply by asking the county. Same mayor same council same waste of money. But hey dont be suprised after all the mayor still expects the hard working people of Macungie to pay his legal bills.
linen23 January 09, 2013 at 01:11 AM
I agree, Ron. This system is redundant. Lehigh County dispatchers already monitor the location of police officers. If there was a formal allegation of misconduct the mayor could request this information. The mayor monitoring officer gps in "real tine" serves no legitimate purpose other than for Slick Rick to call his son and tell him which bar to star away from.
ron January 09, 2013 at 04:28 AM
I see this motion was initiated by Linn Walker. Its a shame that he was not a man of his word and that he did not have the integrity or common sense to resign after his arrest. At least the council member from Alburtis that was arrested did the right thing and did what was best for his town by resigning. Maybe he could teach Mr Walker a thing or two about commen sense, decency and integrity. How embarrassing for Mr Walker.
Carl W January 10, 2013 at 12:01 AM
Make no mistake about it.....the Macungie Police DO annoy businesses & residents. For me? I don't do business in Macungie, and try to be sure I'm never in Borough lines, because of their harrassment. I'm not alone !!! - Allentown
John Rogers January 10, 2013 at 01:26 AM
Great. Stay out of the borough. I'm sure no one misses you and your attitude of ridiculous nonsense towards the Macungie PD. You don't do business in Macungie, you don't live in Macungie, but you are the consumate expert on the Macungie PD and their fantasy problems. You obviously must be psychic then. What a jerk.
linen23 January 10, 2013 at 03:41 AM
Carl W, did you file a formal written complaint to the Chief of Police or the Mayor? I'm assuming you did not. Then...
David January 10, 2013 at 05:04 AM
Of course he didn't. He would fear retribution!! What a joke.
linen23 January 10, 2013 at 01:28 PM
Then he may go to the District Attorney's office, State Rep, etc. Above he accused officers of harassment. Harassment is a criminal offense. I your are going to allege criminal conduct on part of a police department or individual officer you'd better do so in writing. If you are merely running a smear campaign and are simply not believable.
Never A Dull Moment January 10, 2013 at 09:54 PM
Call your local Wal-Mart and ask to speak to the person in charge of donations. Ask them if they gave the $1K to the Borough for the GPS units. If you are like me you will be told that any such large donations do not come from the local stores but from the Wal-Mart Foundation in the form of a grant. You can find them at Wal-Mart Foundation.org on the net. Who do you suppose handles the grant applications for the Borough? Mr. Hoffman claims to have gotten the money from them, but I doubt he filled out the grant request form. His gal "Friday" in the office probably did. Not another lie Mr. Hoffman. How dare this company inject itself into our local politics and support something the majority of the residents oppose! I will never set foot in another Wal-Mart store again! Almost as low as this underhanded, back door Council and Mayor. Why no comment on here from the backstabbing Mr. Becker? Could it be his actions are indefensible?
Chris Becker January 11, 2013 at 03:41 PM
Thank you for giving me a opportunity to add a comment- appreciate that. Yes, I did vote for it and I will tell you why: As I stated (my opinion) we as Council shall not interfere with the Office of the Mayor in his duties presiding over the Police. We as a Council determine Finances and Personal. There were no finances involved, who am I to determine how the Mayor shall govern the Police force. It appears we are taking a lot of heat about this, but we need to respect the Office of the Mayor as well as all the departments in the Borough. I was elected to govern by law not by sides. Everyone can have a opinion, but I can not in my governance of the Borough of Macungie.
Chris Becker January 11, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Part II My position is up December 2015 if you cannot wait there are three Council positions to be elected this year. How to run for Office: February 19th, 1st day to have petitions signed- you will need 10 qualified Borough residents’ signatures. The last day to file a Petition is March 12th. The Election Board Office is located at 17 South 7th Street Allentown Pa. Lower level. Phone number is 610 782-3194. Please read the Borough Code before running for office to understand your duties and responsibilities. I do not write this to be antagonistic, I believe all sides need to be considered when making a ordinance or in voting. I do not expect to please all the people all the time, this is not a popularity contest and there will be times such as now I will receive negative comments, but I understand I was elected to hear all the people and all their comments and I appreciate people even taking the time to get involved. It is a special privilege that the voters have bestowed upon me and I will not take that lightly. I am always available to hear comments and too speak privately with anyone who asks. Respectfully Submitted;
Responsible Citizen January 12, 2013 at 04:59 AM
This is far too much empty rhetoric Mr. Becker!! With all due respect....what would have been "fair" was to wait until ALL council members were present AND to allow Councilwoman Cope to further research before casting her vote. AND...you voted against the GPS installation in April....hmmmm!!! Can you also provide actual documented "complaints" about our MPD?? YES....you WILL continue to "take alot of heat" about this lame vote. The majority of Macungie residents are not FOOLS!! We would also appreciate council allowing our fine MPD to do THEIR job to protect our borough and maintain our safety without ongoing obstruction!!!
ron January 12, 2013 at 05:58 AM
You say there were no finances involved. What about the 1,000 dollors from walmart. Was this grant money given to the borough for the police department or was it given to the mayor for his personal use. I dont believe walmart would give the money with strings attached and tell the borough how to spend it or how to run our police force and i dont believe they would give it to a private individual. So i believe it would be up to council to decide how to use the money for our police force. Mr Becker i thank you for serving our town.
ron January 12, 2013 at 06:03 AM
Oh. May i add i believe the money could have been spent on many more important things for the police department besides this redundant GPS system.
Honesty January 12, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Your comments Mr. Becker are simply not true. The Mayor's attorney isn't stupid. If the Mayor could have installed these without the approval of council he would have done that......don't you think? Council has a responsibility to protect our borough employees which includes our police department. You know darn well there is an alterior motive and you didn't blink an eye. I think you really should watch what you say. It sounds to me you were more worried about the money than the affect on the police department and the citizens of our community.
get real January 14, 2013 at 12:26 AM
Mr. Becker, i believe it is you who should read the Borough Code since it appears that you support our ignorant Mayor who feels he has sole absolute power over our Police department. We have a system of divided powers and checks and balances. If the Mayor had absolute power, he would not have needed the council's AUTHORITY to put the GPS units in the Borough vehicles. You stated that council should not interfere with the office of the Mayor, and that we need to respect the office of the Mayor. As for council not interfering, what you are saying is that council should give the Mayor what ever he requests.This idea of yours is ABSURD! Council members should exhibit and exercise their own good judgment, knowledge, common sense, and leadership. They should not relinquish their own duties and powers.In reference to your respect statement, respect needs to be earned. This Mayor has not earned the respect of most citizens and therefore has none.You also are quickly losing the respect we held for you.

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