In a slight change of pace, the donated television that currently resides in the Nazareth Borough Police Department headquarters was the topic of quieter debate at Monday night's Police Committee meeting.
Police Chief Thomas Trachta asked permission to replace a 25-year-old television, the purchase of which was approved when the department was at 30 Belvidere St., with a brand new television.
More recently, a donated television created much louder debate when a Highway Department employee was instructed by Mayor Fred Daugherty Jr. to disconnect the RCN cable on Jan. 20.
A Nazareth officer made the donation to replace the 25-year-old set, which no longer worked when RCN went digital.
Nazareth Borough Council denied Trachta's request to reconnect the cable to the donated television on Feb. 6, but he's hoping council will allow a new -- and approved -- television.
He added that -- if approved -- the new television would be placed in the department's interview room, which is under 24-hour surveillance. The mayor previously said he heard rumors of officers from Nazareth and other departments watching the television for entertainment.
"Instead of going by uncorroborated rumors, we can go to videotape and address the problem, if abuse is occurring," Trachta suggested.
Councilman Charles Donello wondered if parental controls could be put in place.
"I believe you can do that," Trachta said. "We have the basic package. [The package] didn't have the premium channels, the movie channels, the sports channels. It did have a variety, but it was basic television."
After Trachta listed a variety of reasons for why the cable should be reconnected -- so his officers can stay up to date on news and weather that may affect the borough -- Daugherty said he agreed with the chief.
However, the mayor added that the television is merely a representation of rampant unauthorized use of equipment in the Nazareth Borough Police Department.
"That has to cease," Daugherty said.
"That’s why I’m requesting to purchase a new television," Trachta said.
In accordance with borough rules, Trachta said he also has documentation that says the donated television was, indeed, donated to the borough. All donations -- to any department -- must be approved by council.
But Jack Herbst, the chairman of the Police Committee, noted that although Trachta was following procedure, Det. Fred Lahovski may not be.
He handed Trachta an invoice that showed Lahovski had fingerprinting supplies sent to the department's headquarters. The purchase was not approved by the borough. Trachta, however, pointed out that the credit card Lahovski used appears to be his personal card.
"This is the first I'm seeing this, so I will have to look into it," Trachta said. "But I don’t see what this has to do with the television."
Herbst said the purchase, whether handled on a personal credit card or not, "shows total disregard for policy and procedure."
As for the television, Herbst said Trachta failed to follow up and provide council an answer when asked where the donated television came from.
"The lack of follow-up on your part on the television, it was like a cover-up," Herbst said. "There was no action on your part to resolve the matter."
For Herbst, the television discussion should have ended when council made its decision on Feb. 6 -- Donello made the motion to reconnect the cable, but the motion died for the lack of a second.
"Council spoke," Herbst said simply, adding that there are "plenty of alternatives," such as smartphones, the Internet and the Northampton County 911 center.
Herbst said he will not make the motion to purchase a television at council's March 5 meeting.
"Until we get this end of the business taken care of, I'm not going to make the motion," Herbst said. "Someone else can."