Jul 30, 2014

Council Votes 'No' on GPS for Macungie Police Cars

It was very close, but Mayor Rich Hoffman's idea was defeated.

Council Votes 'No' on GPS for Macungie Police Cars

In a very close vote, Macungie Council on Monday defeated a motion to install private GPS systems in borough police cars.

Three council members -- President Jean Nagle, Vice President Gregory Hutchison and Linn Walker -- voted in favor of installing the devices that would have tracked the movements and locations of borough police cars.

Four members -- Debra Cope, Joseph Sikorski, David Boyko and Christopher Becker -- all voted against installing the systems that Mayor Rick Hoffman wanted because he said he needed to be able to monitor it from his home computer or a smart phone at any hour of the day or night so he can better address numerous police complaints residents have made to him.

A brisk discussion that culminated in President Nagle banging her gavel and calling for a 5-minute recess began with questions between council members and the mayor.

Council member Debra Cope, who has been absent for the past several meetings as she was recovering from shoulder surgery, wanted to know what complaints the mayor had received regarding the police, but Hoffman would not specify.

Cope wanted to know why there are no complaints in writing on the record.

"People are afraid," Walker said.

Tim Romig, owner of , addressed council with the suggestion it should consider in which readers voted 362-25 against the GPS units.

"You have to listen to the public. You people better think long and hard before you vote for this," Romig said.

The mayor was not impressed.

"I don't care what they say on the blogs," Hoffman said.

Romig also wanted to know what Hoffman was doing with the money collected to fund the first year of the GPS service contract -- almost $1,200. 

"How does the public scrutinize the handling of the funds? The mayor does not have the ability to tell the truth," Romig said.

Cope again asked to see police complaints in writing, adding that she was confused as to why they were never collected before.

"You haven't been on council long enough," Hoffman replied.

Council members began yelling at each other as Sikorski suggested calling for the vote.

President Nagle called for a 5-minute recess for everybody to calm down.

The 4-3 vote was taken upon their return. 

Hoffman told Patch that he has no plans to re-introduce the idea, and that donors who identified themselves and have a receipt will be refunded any money they donated to the cause.

About $500 was donated anonymously, he said, and that money is being held at Borough Hall.

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