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No Mayor Means No Decision on 24/7 Police Coverage

Council voted 5-0 to recommend full police coverage, but since the mayor did not attend the meeting, no definitive action was taken.

Macungie Council on Monday voted unanimously to recommend that Mayor Rick Hoffman instruct Police Chief Edward Harry to provide the borough with 24/7 police coverage using Macungie officers.

The motion created by Council Member Joseph Sikorski was carefully worded to consider the powers of the mayor to control the police department. It was also very sensitive to the plight of the cash-strapped borough, specifying that the use of part-time officers and overtime pay be carefully watched and used.

But even though council talked through the motion and each member verbalized the desire to provide full coverage, nothing was truly accomplished because Mayor Rick Hoffman was not at the meeting to, as controller of the police department, give the order to turn council's recommendation into reality.

Do you feel strongly about 24/7 police protection in Macungie? Tell us in the comments.

The mayor recently issued a directive to the police chief to fill 25 shifts.

Several residents spoke in turn about their wishes to have 30 shifts -- the number the Police Chief Harry says he needs to provide the coverage -- filled.

Dorothy Kociuba said that the previous council, on which she served, allocated the money for full coverage.

"I want and expect my taxes to cover 24/7 protection," Kociuba said.

She also challenged _ that open or unfilled shifts would be covered by neighboring police departments including Alburtis and Emmaus.

Harry explained at the May 21 meeting that there must be a Macungie officer on duty for mutual aid to occur. For example, if a Macungie officer were at a hospital or in court when he or she was called to an incident in the borough, he or she could ask that an officer from a neighboring borough be called to the scene.

But if there is no officer on duty, there is no one to issue such a request. Officers from neighboring towns cannot cross those boundaries without being requested to do so.

Absent a neighboring officer, state police would be called. Several residents said that could take time if the nearest state police officer were, for example, in New Tripoli.

Council Member Chris Becker voiced several concerns about staying within the budget allocated for police coverage, but agreed with the police chief when Harry pointed out that his department has so far used only a fraction of its part-time or overtime budgets.

Additionally Harry said that a full-time Macungie Police Officer is never scheduled to work an overtime shift.

"Part-time officers are scheduled for open shifts. When someone is sick or can't report due to other last-minute circumstances, then we call all other part-times first. Overtime is always the last option," Harry said.

"When it's necessary, then we split the overtime between two officers. The first officer will do four hours and the second officer will do the other four," he said.

Former Council Member Kociuba added that in her four years on council Harry had a history of staying within the police department budget.

The unanimous 5-0 voted did not include absent council members Linn Walker and David Boyko.

Resident John Long was not pleased when he realized that what council was working on and talking through would have no legs. The mayor could choose to disregard it.

Council Member Gregory Hutchison explained that whatever council recommended, it is still the mayor's place to command the police force. 

Kelly June 05, 2012 at 12:58 PM
when you have a bad law you change it......this mayor in charge of the police dept is wrong.......change it!!!
Mariella Savidge June 05, 2012 at 01:27 PM
That might not be easy, Kelly. It's actually a state law that plays out differently from borough to borough. Mayor Hoffman has taken his power very literally.
Mrs. B June 05, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Anyone with any decency would think "ok, this is whatg majority wants, we do live in a democracy, it makes sense, so I will also agree".... then again I said anyone with DECENCY....
Mariella Savidge June 05, 2012 at 04:08 PM
That's not necessarily what will happen, M2C. The mayor may shun the advice completely and stick with his wish to allow only 25 shifts per week. Council was very careful not to "step on toes" with its recommendation last night.
Sick of Mayor June 05, 2012 at 09:48 PM
My thoughts EXACTLY! Where was Rick Hoffman?
Bill M. Clark June 05, 2012 at 09:58 PM
So this leaves me to believe crooks can figure out which five shifts have virtually no coverage and do whatever makes them feel good? It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy just to think about it.
Responsible Citizen June 06, 2012 at 01:02 AM
No mystery why Hoffman didn't show up at the meeting! He is exercising his perceived POWER!! It was amazing to see how fearful council and the borough attorney are of him! They could only muster up enough courage to vote on a "recommendation" to the mayor for 24/7 police coverage. It's as if he is Hitler or in charge of the Roman Empire etc... Well...re-elections will come again and since they do not have the safety and well-being of the borough as their priority, they will be voted out!! This mayor is not MACUNGIE!!!!! He is one resident with an ego the size of North America!! It's maddening to see this weak council constantly fear him! The other issue is Mr. Becker's constant focus on his own fears the borough will run out of funds yet they raised our taxes and don't wish to provide us with the 24/7 coverage we expect and deserve! It has to be pointed out to Becker repeatedly that our experienced, professional police Chief Harry has NEVER gone over budget since he was hired 5+ years ago!!! If Mr. Becker is so intelligent, please explain why he is so focused on such a fantasy! He is one of these "what if.." type of characters that has no business on council! He does not see the big picture which is not the type of individual we need on council to provide progress and a vision for this community let alone safety and well- being! Macungie residents need to get informed and involved or this mayor, attorney and council will continue to diminish the quality of life in Macungie!
Mariella Savidge June 06, 2012 at 03:10 AM
It'll be interesting to see what happens.
LMTnative June 06, 2012 at 12:37 PM
What does Macungie have to do to impeach and remove Mayor Hillbilly? This guy is a perfect example of someone unfit for office who needs to be removed for the protection of the citizens of Macungie.
Responsible Citizen June 06, 2012 at 05:59 PM
As I commented above, several of these councilman need to be removed as well! Attend a council meeting for a full eye opener! Just WHERE do these people come from ?! Chief Harry had to take the podium AGAIN to re- explain 24/7 coverage AND what it means when there is no coverage on a shift by the MPD! Either these council members are falling asleep during the meetings, not paying attention or have a comprehension problem! Whatever the reason, none is acceptable!!

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