The wake of Coaldale Borough Council's Feb. 14 decision to furlough its three full-time police officers to save money has rippled into neighboring Lansford, and that borough's leaders are not happy about it.
Lansford Councilman Tommy Vadyak, at a public meeting Wednesday, read aloud a letter written by borough Police Chief John Turcmanovich to his officers concerning dispatched responses to Coaldale.
"If the officers of the Lansford Police Department are dispatched to an incident in Coaldale Borough when there is no Coaldale Police Department officer on actual duty, Lansford officers will only respond if the call is a "life threatening emergency," such as an assault with serious bodily injuries, rape, bad motor vehicle accident with injuries, or any action toward persons with a weapon.
"Any other reported serious complaint, the responding officers are directed to use their discretion as to responding," Turcmanovich wrote.
He noted that "If a response is made, the responding officer (or officers) is to have a Coaldale officer called out to respond to the incident scene by the 911 communications center."
Further, Lansford officers are to "make a complete report listing the call, response, actions taken, name of the responding Coaldale officer and the times involved in that response."
Turcmanovich also noted that the new schedule for Coaldale officers has been posted, and that there are no night shift officers on duty overnight Monday through Thursday. During those times, and on any other shift that Coaldale officers are not scheduled, state police at Frackville will be on call.
Vadyak, who chairs council's Public Safety Committee, signed the letter, as did council President Rose Mary Cannon and Mayor Ron Hood. A copy made its way to Coaldale Borough Council.
"I don't believe we should be down there," he said. "Why should our own taxpayers pay to provide service to Coaldale?"
Coaldale council drew sharp criticism at a public meeting Tuesday for its unanimous decision to furlough the three officers. Residents are concerned about police protection, and told council the furloughed officers Sgt. Keith Krapf, Criminal Investigator Todd Weiss and Officer Charles Blesse went above and beyond the call of duty, getting to know the town's residents and keeping a close eye on the community.
Council contends it was forced to furlough the officers in order to avoid an even steeper property tax increase than the 2.5 mill hike it levied when it adopted its 2012 budget on Feb. 14.
Complicating matters, Coaldale was at a stalemate in crafting a new contract for the three officers when it furloughed them. Council members said they are to meet with Fraternal Order of Police representatives today to further discuss the matter.