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Council responds to residents about police

Published November 13. 2013 05:00PM

Coaldale council members at a public meeting Tuesday responded to a barrage of questions about police activity.

Council unleashed a firestorm of protest on Feb. 14, 2012, when it furloughed its three full-time police officers. The borough is now covered by part-timers and state police at Frackville.

Since then, the number of hours the officers work, their schedules and work activity have been the subject of intense debate.

A notice in a Hazleton newspaper seeking part-time patrolmen triggered questions on Tuesday.

"How many part-time officers were you anticipating hiring?" asked Councilwoman-elect Angela Krapf.

Councilman Thomas Keerans, who heads the Police Committee, said it depends how many open shifts needed to be filled. He said council had received much criticism by people who wanted 24/7 protection, which the borough is unable to provide under current circumstances.

Krapf then accused the board of failing to re-advertise police and personnel committee meetings, which had been rescheduled from Tuesday, Nov. 5 to Monday, Nov. 4, because Nov. 5 was General Election day.

Secretary Andrea Davis said that she was directed to advertise the change in date, but she didn't submit it before the deadline.

Krapf also took Mayor Richard Corkery to task, saying that he omitted information from his report at last month's public meeting.

"One thing you forgot to mention about the furloughed officers in your speech during the last meeting was that they were only working eight to 16 hours per week," she said. "So when you read off the figures for the furloughed and the part-time officers, and said that (Officer Joseph) Krebs had responded to more calls, it was because he had worked a lot more hours than the furloughed officers.

"But, as usual, you only put out what you wanted people to hear and not the full facts. I am very happy that you are here tonight, because I didn't think I would get to say that to you," she said to a round of applause from the audience.

Corkery has only recently resumed attending public meetings. He had stopped attending them in August 2011 following his arrest on charges of possessing child pornography. His trial, which has been delayed several times, is now scheduled to be held in January.

At the meeting Tuesday, he apologized to the Weiss family Ruth, Tommy, and (police officer) Todd for mispronouncing their surname at the last meeting.

In a related matter, police Chief Timothy Delaney reported that his department handled 236 calls between Sept. 1 and Oct. 31. There were 12 family offenses, three disorderly conducts, one stolen property, one assault, and one burglary. There were a total of four arrests made, and 18 traffic citations and two nontraffic citations issued.

Delaney reported that Officer Keith Krapf handled 70 calls; Krebs, 66; Weiss, 47; Officer Charles Blesse, 41; Officer Matthew Houser, nine, and Officer Matthew Williams, three.

In other matters, Davis proposed a safety committee that would hopefully remediate and prevent future workers' compensation claims. She said the borough now has workers' compensation insurance through State Workers' Insurance Fund (SWIF).

Davis said a committee would help to cut the cost of coverage by as much as 5 percent, saving the borough $2,500.

It would also make sure employees know how to avoid workplace injury and how to respond if they get hurt.

Council appointed Councilmen Michael Doerr and Keerans to the Safety Committee.

Also, Councilman Joseph Hnat unsuccessfully proposed a motion to remove the tint from the front windows of one of the police cruisers and paint "Coaldale Police" on both sides.

Council expects to discuss and approve the 2014 budget in December.

On the advice of Street Department foreman Kenneth Hankey, council agreed to buy four sets of backup tire chains at $770 each.

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