The fate of the Nazareth Borough Police Department lies somewhere among Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.
What are the specifics of each plan? The borough’s Police Committee isn’t saying.
“There is a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C,” explained committee Chairman Jack Herbst. “Something will be done.”
Herbst was answering a question Monday night from Councilman Charles Donello, who wondered, “Do we have any idea where we stand on our police department? Are we getting anywhere with this?”
Donello added that he feels “we’re not getting anywhere” because of council’s monthly schedule. Council holds a regular business meeting on the first Monday of the month. A workshop is held on the Thursday before the regular meeting.
Herbst reminded his colleague that the working plans for the police department were “explained at the last executive session.”
Donello said he attended the executive session, but would like council to hold an extra meeting each month to bridge the time gap.
“Then we don’t have to wait a whole month,” Donello said.
Herbst countered: “But in this case, we’re not rushing into anything."
During a Nov. 29 workshop, Council President Dan Chiavaroli said "we’re still exploring several options."
"We put in the budget for one full-time officer, because that could potentially happen," Chiavaroli added. "But depending on our options, we might not hire that full-time officer. This is a process, and this tends to be the way government works. It’s painfully slow.”
What is/was happening
Nazareth Borough Council approved a motion Dec. 3 to revisit contracting police services from a neighboring municipality. Nazareth wants an outside source to provide police services and asked six municipalities -- three of which make up Colonial Regional Police -- if they were interested.
In addition to Colonial Regional, council sent a “Request for Proposal” to Upper Nazareth, Bushkill and Palmer townships.
According to a report in The Express-Times, the Colonial Regional Police Commission in December rejected the borough's police services proposal, but said it would reconsider under different terms.
Colonial Regional Police Commission Chairman Glenn Walbert confirmed for The Express-Times that negotiations are ongoing. He said it’s unclear where the negotiations are headed.
In its request for proposals, the borough had guidelines it wanted each municipality to keep in mind:
- Three-year contract at a cost not to exceed $2.8 million.
- The borough’s three full-time officers must be added to the police department of the contracting municipality with wages and benefits at least equal to the current Nazareth police contract.
Police Chief -- $67,830
Patrolman (over 6 years) -- $59,660
Patrolman (after 4 years) -- $55,979
- The contracting municipality must agree to lease and operate a substation at 134 S. Main St.
- The contracting municipality agrees to periodic foot patrols in the business district and business checks.
- Nazareth Borough Council shall be permitted to appoint a liaison to attend all Police Committee meetings and receive all correspondence.
Upper Nazareth and Palmer townships rejected the proposal. Bushkill Township didn’t respond, according to The Express-Times.
The past revisited
Nazareth Mayor Fred Daugherty Jr. has long been an advocate for disbanding the Nazareth Borough Police Department. In June 2011, Daugherty announced his recommendation to buy coverage from Colonial Regional Police.
Six months later, Daugherty withdrew his recommendation, saying, "It has become patently clear that contracting police services from Colonial Regional Police will not happen. I stand by my recommendation that it would be the best alternative to what we now have, but because of several reasons I am withdrawing my recommendation.”
Daugherty has cited rising operating costs as the reasoning behind his recommendation.
Travelers Insurance last year dropped the borough's workers’ compensation policy after recording 19 losses within the last three years -- totaling about $1.1 million in claims.
Most of the workers' compensation claims have originated from the borough's police department, although no officers are currently claiming workers' compensation.