Jim Thorpe Mayor Michael Sofranko delivered a report on the positive developments which have been occurring in the Jim Thorpe Police Department to the Jim Thorpe Borough Council at their regularly scheduled meeting Thursday. His report was concerned with the formation of new divisions within the department and the hiring of a new part-time officer.
Recently, the police department has formed five specialized divisions to more efficiently handle challenges specific to the township. These divisions are Illegal Drugs, Community Watch, Traffic, Gang Awareness and Lights and Ordinances.
Sofranko explained that one of the benefits of this new system is that it will "make it easier for the police department to answer any questions the council may have."
These new divisions were developed based on input gathered from a series of community meetings held over the last year. The mayor, Police Chief Joseph Schatz and the officers of the police department then "sat down and took the information and concerns of the community" and created the divisions that would answer those concerns.
Each division will be assigned to an officer who has expertise in that area.
The mayor explained that "this way they can focus on that are and deal with it more efficiently."
The community meetings will also continue, as a way for the community to continually critique and improve the performance of the department. The next community meeting is scheduled for next Thursday, July 15, and will be held either at the Jim Thorpe Municipal Building or the adjacent pavilion.
In addition to these divisions, the police department also has a detective who is assigned to continually investigate criminal activities such as rape, homicide, shootings and theft.
The department will also be adding a new part-time officer to deal with shortages on the force. The council approved the new-part time officer, Jim Danner, currently police chief of East Penn Township, on Thursday.
Sofranko explained that the addition was necessary because some of the borough's current time officers have not been available recently.
"They are also officers in other townships, and their obligations there have kept them from working in Jim Thorpe."
Because of this there has been a shortage of officers in Jim Thorpe.
"Last Friday, there was only one officer on duty at night," said Sofranko. The normal number of officers on a night is supposed to be three.
The decision to hire Danner was made because he already has a large amount of experience.
"Our budget is tight and we are trying to backfill an existing problem, so we hired an experienced officer that didn't need to be trained," said Sofranko. "We're not saying we're against hiring officers who have just graduated from the academy, and we will be looking to do that in the future, but we are trying to solve a problem that needed to be solved yesterday."
Because of the shortages, officers have been working unpaid overtime to compensate. The addition of Officer Danner is meant to solve that problem.
"He wanted very much to come to Jim Thorpe and assured us that he'd be able to do enough hours," said Sofranko.
Sofranko went on to thank the council for their cooperation, saying that "their support is outstanding." In Sofranko's opinion the addition of the new officer and the creation of the divisions is creating a very strong police force.
"The police department is very eager and service minded, from the chief all the way down to the regular officers."