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Police safety concerns explained to J.T. council

Published March 14. 2011 05:00PM

A special executive session of Jim Thorpe Borough Council was called last week at the request of Mayor Michael Sofranko to discuss security issues at the borough's police station.

Sofranko wouldn't elaborate on the specifics of the security issues, but the meeting was called after a car theft suspect managed to run out of the police station while being processed on charges on March 4.

The suspect then allegedly stole another car, but was apprehended 20 minutes later.

The suspect, Christopher Farley, 37, of West Hazleton, is currently being held in the Carbon County Correctional Facility in lieu of $70,000 monetary bail.

A hearing for Farley is scheduled on March 23 before District Judge Edward Lewis of Jim Thorpe.

Sofranko and Chief of Police Joseph Schatz of Jim Thorpe spoke with the TIMES NEWS on Sunday regarding the March 4 incident.

They stressed they couldn't discuss the security issues that were presented to the borough council for obvious reasons.

On March 4, police were advised to watch for a red Chevrolet Blazer possibly wanted in a hit and run incident.

The Blazer was spotted parked across the street from the office of Lewis.

Sofranko said it was a stolen vehicle. Allegedly Farley's girlfriend had a hearing at Lewis for unrelated charges on March 4 and Farley stole the car to transport her there.

Farley was taken into custody by Jim Thorpe police. He was taken to the police station. While being processed, Sofranko said, the telephone rang and other interruptions occurred. Farley saw an opportunity and fled from the police.

The mayor said Farley wasn't gone more than about two minutes before a bulletin was released to other police units about the matter.

Meanwhile, an extensive search of the area occurred and an inventory was taken at the police station to assure nothing was stolen; particularly police equipment.

Unknown at the time to police was that someone a couple of blocks away had a car running, unlocked. Farley allegedly jumped into the vehicle and stole it.

About 2 1/2 hours later, he was detained by Hazleton City Police in the stolen vehicle, Schatz said.

As soon as the incident unfolded, Schatz called Mayor Sofranko, who was in Orwigsburg attending a basketball game. Sofranko said he immediately went to the Jim Thorpe police station and he and the officers conducted a "lock down" and took inventory. Nothing was missing.

He said he held a meeting that lasted several hours with Schatz that evening and went over all the details of the incident.

He reported these details to the borough council in the executive session that he requested and received on Thursday.

"As the mayor, I waited until everything checked out with the police chief, then I met with the borough manager," he said. "Then I called the executive meeting of council for personnel issues."

He said one of the things he relayed to council is, "We're looking to try to secure the Jim Thorpe Police Department and borough offices better."

One thing Mayor Sofranko said he is hoping to do is to hire an outside advisor who can make recommendations for security improvements.

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