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JT police chief looks ahead for staffing

Published September 11. 2018 12:20PM

Budget time is fast approaching in municipalities around the state.

One issue Jim Thorpe Police Chief Joe Schatz would like council to consider during upcoming workshops is the manpower within his department.

According to Schatz, not too long after Detective Lee Marzen came off the injured list, officer Kyle Kohler was sidelined following a drug investigation.

Kohler, Schatz said, was injured while taking down a door during a drug bust.

“We have seven officers including myself out there holding it down, but it’s getting tough out there,” Schatz told council Thursday night. “There are times when we have one officer working a shift. We’re trying to keep things normal when it comes to hours and that kind of thing.”

In the two months since Jim Thorpe installed parking kiosks downtown, there have been 16,571 unique transactions.

With that level of volume, Schatz said, a thin staff could be a hardship, especially during a big event in town.

“The figures show that 125,000 came through downtown last year,” Schatz said. “I hate like heck to say it, but I think in the coming years, we’re going to have to look at staffing. To have that amount of traffic, and sometimes only one officer working, that’s really tough.”

Lehighton and Lansford recently upped their staffs, Schatz said.

Lehighton added two full-time officers in 2017. One was a replacement for a retired sergeant.

“With the growth of the borough, the additional officers will be necessary, in addition to the existing need,” Lehighton Borough Manager Nicole Beckett said at the time. The move brought Lehighton’s total to 11 officers.

Lansford added two full-time officers in 2016, bringing its total to six.

“We need to look at what we plan on doing,” Schatz said. “Using part-timers is great, but they’re really hard to get. They have other jobs.”

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