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Mayor Orders Added Police Protection During Council Meetings

Macungie Mayor Rick Hoffman has ordered that two police officers be on duty on the nights of council's regular meetings.

Macungie Mayor Rick Hoffman has ordered that two police officers be on duty in the borough every time Macungie Council meets.

The mayor has been adamant that the Macungie Police Department will provide 24/7 coverage to the citizens of the borough with 25 eight-hour shifts a week.

Twenty-five shifts -- instead of the 30 provided for in the borough's 2012 budget -- means no more than one officer is on duty at any time, and if an officer is ill or there's a scheduling emergency, Hoffman has said it is acceptable for there to be unfilled police shifts.

And if there are two calls and only one officer on duty, someone is just going to wait, Hoffman has said.

Until now.

In an email dated Sept. 26, 2012 to Macungie Police Chief Edward Harry Jr., the mayor said:

"I would like you to schedule a tac-shift officer on the 1st and 3rd Monday of the month, beginning with October 1, 2012.

This additional officer should be scheduled to work a 7 p.m. - 3 a.m. shift, and he should be available to be called to Council Meetings if necessary.

In the event that a Council Meeting is rescheduled due to a Holiday, the tac-shift should also be rescheduled.

If you have any questions, or need additional clarification, please let me know as soon as possible since this needs to be started by Monday."

A tac-shift, ("tac" being short for tactical) overlaps two of the three primary shifts. If all 25 shifts allowed in a week are filled and no one takes any time off, four tac-shifts are available per week. Tac-shifts are most often used in the 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. time slots, Harry said. 

Harry's reply said first and foremost that the Macungie Police Department would comply with Hoffman's directive.

But he recounted in his response a question he asked the mayor when Hoffman originally approached Harry verbally with the request.

Any call to council would be answered "in priority of importance based on type of call and responded to accordingly. This was not acceptable with you stating that you did not want to have to wait," Harry's written response said.

It continued:

"Why is it acceptable for any other citizen of this community ... to wait and not you or council? ... One of the reasons citizens have become so frustrated over the years with the borough is the appearance of a double standard. ... the issuance of this order for the stated reasons can accomplish nothing but to solidify that feeling in the community. Do any of us really want the public to think that you and council are entitled to police protection beyond what is provided to them? Or that your and council's safety is any more important than theirs?"

Hoffman was challenged at the meeting by former council member Dorothy Kociuba who asked Hoffman why he needed two officers on duty on a week night.

"The police won't keep order, it's [President Jean Nagle's] job to keep order," Kociuba said.

Hoffman was incensed.

"Why? Because these meetings are not in control. When [Nagle] hits the gavel people refuse to obey. If it continues those people will be asked to leave, and if they don't leave they will be escorted out until decorum returns...until these are run as meetings and not Wild West shows," Hoffman said. 

John Rogers October 04, 2012 at 02:41 PM
What you have here is the same person who accussed the police department of intimidating and harassing the public now attempting to use them to do exactly the same thing!!!! Ole Rickie had not been attending council meetings, saying that he wasn't required. Now all of a sudden, the big sheriff in town is riding into the meetings on his white horse (or Yamaha) to save council from the big, bad public. Mr. Law and Order is going to bring civility to the meetings by threatening to call the police. First of all Rickie, I doubt very highly that the police are going to succumb to your will, particularly if it is beyond the scope of your authority in ordering people arrested or taken from meetings. Secondly, it is my guess that the public who attends the meetings knows this and will not let you intimidate them either with your chest thumping.
Never A Dull Moment October 04, 2012 at 09:20 PM
What difference does it make if there is lengthy public comment at the beginning or the end of the meeting? The meeting will still be very long as evidenced on Monday night. As the chief stated...nothing he has seen or heard at these meetings has come remotely close to being any criminal act. But the "old school marm" and the "principle" think they can expel the unruly students from the building anyway. The loud,passionate attitude of the residents is the result of several years worth of Councils ruling against the will of the people. Can you say police dog? At about 12:45 AM Tuesday morning when the meeting ended, the chief was seen in the parking lot on duty. He apparently was the additional tac shift officer on duty. He had been on duty since 6 AM Monday morning! That shift ended at 3 AM Tuesday morning! Another free shift donated by the Chief? Oh, i forgot, Mr. Hoffman ordered him to stop working for the citizens of Macungie for free!!
john l.long October 05, 2012 at 01:28 AM
I cannot believe all the comments coming in about our Mayor who said at ( 1 ) Time I do not have to attend any meetings if I don't want to , to now saying I don't care how much we are over or under Budget I want a Tech Officer on Duty the nights there are Council Meetings just in case Madam President cannot control the Crowd of maybe "5-10 " Residents there the rest are usually from the differant News Agencys . I would like to Challenge the Fine Citizens of our Boro to come out on Oct.15th and show the Mayor and Council that we can make a Differance in this Town.
Responsible Citizen October 05, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Our police chief has been donating NUMEROUS hours to our borough while this CLOWN HOFFMAN continues to give him preposterous EDICTS to obey or risk suspension while our illustrious council sits on their hands ever since our police chief was hired!!! Bless Police Chief Harry for tolerating this ongoing harrassment, lack of support and disrespect....Macungie is fortunate to still have him!!!
get real October 06, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Stupid is as stupid does !

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