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New GPS System Would Track Macungie Police

Mayor Rick Hoffman has asked the budget-strapped borough to pay for most of it.

Macungie Mayor Rick Hoffman’s quest to install GPS systems in borough police cars advanced a bit at last week’s Macungie Council meeting when the mayor asked council to commit to paying for the second two years of the devices’ three-year binding contracts.

The GPS units will allow authorized personnel – limited to the police chief and himself, the mayor said – to view officers’ locations, the speed of their cars and the length of time they spend at a location.

"It’s a good management tool,” the mayor said.

The units will cost $295 per year plus some maintenance fees to run in each of the three borough vehicles, he said, which comes to about $1,100 per year. Hoffman asked Macungie Council to pay $2,200.

At his first mention of installing the units several weeks ago, the mayor said the units would be paid for by donations, and what was not covered by donations he would pay for himself.

“I was only speaking about the first year,” he said in a phone interview days ago.

Council member Chris Becker said at the Feb. 21 council meeting that he was not comfortable approving the plan because only one company’s units and plans were under consideration.

Becker called for at least three quotes, and the mayor agreed to get them even though the quote from Hauppauge, NY-based Advanced Testing Technologies, Inc. was the best the mayor said he had seen.

Tim Romig of Upper Milford Township, owner of Automotive Service Solutions in the borough, challenged the mayor’s request that borough residents pay for this tracking system, especially in light of the recent budget struggle.

Romig directed a question to Council Member Linn Walker, “Didn’t the mayor say he would personally pay for whatever part of the cost is not covered by donations?" suggesting there was no such first-year proviso mentioned originally.

“Yes he did,” Walker said.

Romig also brought up the possibility of waiting for a GPS system Lehigh County currently is testing.

The mayor said he didn’t know much about the system and furthermore didn’t want to wait for it.

However, the county system would not be the same as the one the mayor has in mind, said Laurie Bailey, Lehigh County 911 director.

If there were an incident in which an officer or a back-up is needed, the county system would be able to see if there was a car in the area, perhaps closer to an incident than a car that would routinely have been assigned.

There is no back-up or real-time data collected with the county system, she said. It would show only where a car is, not how long it was at the location or how fast it was traveling.

The system Hoffman is proposing will let officers know that somebody is watching them, like a time clock, Bailey said.

Lehigh County Director of General Services Glenn Solt said the GPS could be a good tool in a rural community where officer safety is a concern.

“If there’s an officer in a ravine and can’t call, this is a tool to check the welfare, which is standard operating procedure,” Solt said, “Anything can happen.”

But having that information can also put an officer in danger if it falls into the wrong hands, said Macungie Police Chief Edward Harry Jr.

Harry is not opposed to the new system as long as the delivery of the information is secure, he said.

Hoffman has neither consulted with Harry on the system nor even officially notified Harry that the system will be installed.

“I haven’t talked to the chief because he’s not receptive,” Hoffman said, “There’s nothing to negotiate.”

David March 02, 2012 at 11:42 AM
“I haven’t talked to the chief because he’s not receptive,” Hoffman said, “There’s nothing to negotiate." That doesn't make sense. If the mayor hasn't talked to the chief or, in fact, hasn't even officially notified him about the system, how in the world would he know exactly what he is receptive to???????
Kelly March 02, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Do you realize the 2 officers that were hired last summer have already left Macungie for other depts? How will we ever keep quality officers with this mayor? How can anyone not see this mayor has a vendetta with the police dept? He hasn't even consulted the chief....good management me Mayor!!! Council members, you were elected to serve the people of this borough not cowtow to this out of control mayor. He told you he would get donations to pay for this and that the community supported this, also that he would pay for it!! Don't fall for his nonsense anymore, rein him in before he does more damage. To quote a famous movie, " we have serious problem and we need serious people to solve them......Mr Hoffman your 10 minutes is up".
Vic March 02, 2012 at 01:32 PM
I feel its about time to replace that mayor Rick Hoffman and the Macungie Boro council & the residents of Macungie can do that just by having a meeting.The mayor of Macungie already cost the Macungie Boro how much in legal fees and more which will only hurt the financesin the boro so much more if they don,t get that mayor removed asap.You know what other town do you hear anything of a mayor putting his nose in the police depts bussiness as this one mayor does?Its all a game and a challenge for him to see just how far he can push his position as a mayor and I feel hes pushed way over the limit already.Hoffman has no certifications in crimainal law so whats the point of even giving him any part of the police dept.Macungie its time to put an end to his term as mayor now!
Macungie - small town USA March 02, 2012 at 01:35 PM
With taxes increasing this year and knowing about the "new assessment" tax increases next year (which are quite substantial for many of us) I think we need to save expenses and NOT add any more. I am NOT in favor of this additional expense.
David March 02, 2012 at 02:18 PM
I'd like to add one additional comment. Since Harry was appointed chief, Macungie PD has been as progessive a department as is financially feasible. If this was such a good idea, then why didn't Chief Harry request it? And why has he remained silent and not come out in support of the idea? That tells me something and it should speak volumes to the residents who are being asked to foot the bill.
Kelly March 02, 2012 at 06:14 PM
I am sure the officers who left did not leave because of the chief!! I would like to think the chief is silent because he doesn't engage in foolishness, also his "boss" hasn't spoken to him about it!!
Darla Malik March 02, 2012 at 07:05 PM
I culd post a huge comment like eveyone else, ... but instead I would just like to know when the Mayor ( so-called ) is up for re-election! It's clear he is not fit for the job!
David March 02, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Kelly, that was the point that I was making.
Vic March 02, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Darla, I am sure the so called person that has the heading of Mayor in Macungie sure knows he won,t get another term to be Mayor and
Kelly March 02, 2012 at 09:15 PM
another voice ~ I realize your point, I was just putting an exclamation mark on it!
David March 02, 2012 at 10:19 PM
No problem. I wasn't sure. Thanks.

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