'Inadequate' Police Coverage Raises Nazareth Residents' Fear Level

A Nazareth resident complains to Council that the response time for state police, who occasionally cover the borough, is slow and inadequate.

Almost two years after Nazareth’s mayor and Council began researching an alternate police service, patience is wearing thin.

The status of borough police -- and whether it should contract with or join neighboring Colonial Regional Police -- is an ongoing issue. The proposed 2013 borough budget calls for hiring one additional full-time officer and purchasing a new police SUV.

Korine Behler complained during Council’s workshop Thursday night about “chaos” involving an intoxicated person and a fight across the street from her home. She said no borough officers were on duty and that the response time for state police, who were covering the borough, was slow and inadequate.

“It happens every day,” said Mayor Fred Daugherty Jr. He said he and Council “are trying to address your concerns.”

Behler described in detail how she watched three people beginning at 11:30 last Friday night. One, a male, was “completely drunk,” was walking in the middle of the street but then “couldn’t get up.” The same male, she said, got into the driver’s seat of a car.

She called police and discovered no borough officers were on duty and that state police were covering Nazareth that night -- a night she went without sleep, she said.

Twenty-five minutes went by and the male in question was throwing up. She said that when a state police cruiser finally arrived, a trooper spoke to the people outside, asking from the cruiser if everything was all right.

A woman in the group said “yes” and the cruiser pulled away, Behler said.

The police “could have seen vomit” on the streets, she said. After police left, the intoxicated male got back into the car.

A little more than 24 hours later -- around 4:30 a.m. Sunday -- two males were fighting across the street, Behler said. Again, no borough officers were on duty. She went back to sleep, and 45 minutes later state police arrived.

”What if they were fighting with a knife out there,” she said in reference to the delayed response time, adding that police who called her later said they had to come from Williams Township.

Police Chief Thomas Trachta said a borough officer was working last Friday night -- but on DUI duties in the region covered under a state grant.

Behler also attended Council’s Nov. 26 Police Committee meeting, when she noted, “We have seven full-time Highway Department employees. Our priorities are on the road, and not on our safety?”

Trachta said he is striving for two officers on duty -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The two full-time officers currently with the department work together during the day. There are six part-time officers, most of whom work for other Lehigh Valley departments, Trachta said.

“For six hours I have an officer by himself,” Trachta explained, rhetorically adding, “Do I want to tell an officer’s family that he was out there by himself and something bad happened?”

He continued, “A full-time department -- which I know is not realistic because of the money -- but I’d like to see two officers on duty 24/7 and I think it’s obtainable. There are 14 bars in Nazareth. You need someone to watch your back. The days of solo patrol have to be over. It will cost money, but it’s a safety thing. You can’t put a price on a cop’s life.”

According to council president Dan Chiavaroli, Upper Nazareth Township has ended talks about merging the two departments.

“We’re still exploring several options,” Chiavaroli said. “We put in the budget for one full-time officer, because that could potentially happen. 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.”

Carl Fischl, the newest member of Council, said keeping the Nazareth Borough Police Department intact will raise property taxes 8 to 10 mills.

“It’s going to cost you a lot of money,” he noted. “A mill costs $25 per household. A 5-mill increase is $125. For some people, that’s pocket change. For some people, that’s hard to make. If you want the real deal, you’re going 8-10 mills. Who wants to pay that out there?”

Anesa Dunbar is willing to part with a larger chunk of her paycheck if, in turn, she receives peace of mind. 

“Money is an issue. Money will always be an issue,” Dunbar said. “I’m a single mother. But am I willing to pay to make sure my son is safe? Yes. All I want to see is that I live in a city that is safe… What are we going to do about it? What options do we have?”

One resident offered a suggestion and a rare moment of praise.

"I think you’ve been working very, very hard and that you do have the best interest of the residents in Nazareth at heart," said Becky Butz. "But we must deal with the reality of this situation. I honestly feel we cannot afford our own police department. I believe you should re-open negotiations again with Colonial Regional Police. [Chief Roy Seiple] showed you how this could work. We would be part of a well-organized and well-managed department. This is definitely the way to go."

Butz noted for the record that she recently toured Colonial Regional's headquarters on Brodhead Road.

"Not to be smart… they have four TVs."

Nazareth Borough Council will meet tonight (Monday, Dec. 2) for its last meeting of 2012. The meeting starts at 7.

Abcdefg December 03, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Well if u live on Main Street your bound to see that stuff. The American is a bar known for drugs and is right on Main Street.
Jake Tucker December 03, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Korine Behler describes “chaos” involving intoxicated people fighting in the street “completely drunk,” was walking in the middle of the street but then “couldn’t get up.” The same male got into the driver’s seat of a car. Our Mayor’s response is “It happens every day,” said Mayor Fred Daugherty Jr. He said he and Council “are trying to address your concerns.” Hey Fred! Are you for real? Is this the best you can do? Trying is not good enough. What need to happen before you wake up? I don’t mean to blame just you, but that is a ridiculous thing to say. PA MOM writes There are drunk people roaming the streets every day of the week. We have seen drunk people laying on the sidewalk, drunk drivers, drug deals, parked cars almost hit, parked cars hit, fights, certain stores in town known for selling drugs - we had no idea how dangerous this town is. It's very scary. I am afraid to go outside in the dark and we know people that put on their guns when they go out at night so they can protect themselves. Who are these drunken people and where are they coming from? Why doesn’t Dan Chiavaroli and this Council want to clean up the street? Does this have something to do with Larry Stoudt bars again? Larry is the bartender at the American.
rick troxell December 03, 2012 at 03:41 PM
I will fight tooth and nail for nazareth to have it's own dept unless they can come up with 24hr a day 7 day a week everyday of the year coverage at a lesser cost than doing it ourselves. There is a hidden agenda here and has been all along this journey. Higher authority will intervene shortly I believe and council will have no choice.
cmp59310 December 03, 2012 at 03:51 PM
I think what Trachta is really saying, is that yes, there was an open shift to patrol the borough that Friday night. Instead of making sure that shift was filled 1st, (therefore at least one officer would be covering the borough) he approved that officer to work a DUI event. When working under the DUI grant, that officer doesn’t respond to calls in the borough. My concern is that he had the ability to provide police coverage for the town that night, and yet didn’t provide it! Trachta also mentions that Nazareth’s 2 full time officers are working together during the day. Doesn’t that mean 3 full time officers are actually working during the day – including himself?! What he fails to mention is both are working the same days/shift. My question is if he is SO concerned about the welfare and safety of his officers and town, why not move one of the full time officers to the opposite day shift and the part time officer that is currently on that day shift be moved to a night shift? This way the town would have coverage at night from borough police, not state police.
Kaos8 December 03, 2012 at 04:08 PM
I have known Trachta since he came to this department. I know that he is not happy with the current situation, however, there is not much he can do about it. It is a very political situation, as is most Emergency Service jobs everywhere. I believe he is trying to do the best he can, with a crappy situation. The facts are, it really is an officer safety issue. You have no idea what these guys are up against, when working by themselves..And Drunks and Domestic Violence situations are the worst for officer safety, which comprises of most of Nazareth's complaints in this story. Until they get more officers, it really is not a safe situation for a single patrolman to be on duty. Again this appears to be council running the police department they way they want..The only problem is the residents of Nazareth are who is suffering. And if you think all the delinquents are from Nazareth, think again. People know that they can attempt to get away with stuff in Nazareth, because the Department is minimal and sometimes not even on duty.
Kaos8 December 03, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Another thing, Pennsylvania State Police Belfast covers from Upper Mt Bethel to Williams Twp. So, imagine if they have a serious call up North in the County- and then there is a Domestic Violence Call or Drunk Disorderly in Nazareth..These troopers can't just leave, they have to at least secure the situation where they were and then go to Nazareth..The response time is going to be pretty long. The bottom line. Wether Nazareth brings Colonial Regional in or they keep Nazareth PD- They would still have to hire more officers in. So the question is, would you rather your own department handle your calls. I personally think Nazareth PD is the better option, you just have to have Chief Trachta have the authority to actually run the department, not Borough Council.
Mallory Vough (Editor) December 03, 2012 at 04:49 PM
I just wanted to pop in here quick to add: A resident did ask Trachta why the two full-time officers are scheduled to work together during the day. He said it's a personnel issue, meaning the details are not for public consumption. But he did say, "In this particular case... Yes, it does make sense [for them to work day tours together]." That's all he would say.
Kaos8 December 03, 2012 at 05:04 PM
“It happens every day,” said Mayor Fred Daugherty Jr. He said he and Council “are trying to address your concerns.” - I find this appalling. Research other Part Time Police Departments (meaning they are not a 24hr police department), like Roseto, East Bangor, Stockertown, Tatamy, etc.. THEY DO NOT HAVE 14 BARS! Nor do they have the population Nazareth has. This is ridiculous. How the Mayor and Borough Council thinks that having a Part-Time Police Department at this time is OK, is complete negligence to the residents of Nazareth. The comment Mayor stated "are trying to address your concerns" makes me wonder how quickly decisions would be made if they were involved in one of these police matters Korine Behler has brought up.
Carl Strye December 03, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Where are the 14 bars? Jacksonian, Legion, Holy Family, Vigilance, Towne House, Rios, VFW and Naz. Diner. That is 8 not 14 unless there are more that I don't know about. However, I agree Nazareth needs to re open some kind of negotiation with someone. In my opinion it should be Upper Nazareth. Maybe we can come up with a deal that keeps the Nazareth Police Department and "contracts" Upper Nazareth to cover specified times in the Borough. Just an idea, but there has to be an answer. OR start talking to Lower Nazareth to come back the way it was years ago. MMMM
cmp59310 December 03, 2012 at 06:15 PM
And American Hotel. The Slate Quarry and The PA Roadhouse both have Nazareth addresses but are covered by different depts.
Kaos8 December 03, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Yeah, I am not sure about where the 14 are located in the borough, but that is how many are quoted in this article. If it is correct or not, I don't know- but even if just 8, that is an awful lot of possibilities for disaster, when there is not a full time police dept in place..The problem is the people that could be causing these problems, probably don't all live in Nazareth, and I am sure they all know- there is minimal police coverage in town.
rick troxell December 03, 2012 at 09:12 PM
4 bars, 8 bars or 20 bars is not the only issue. You need to remember other activity is ongoing be it domestic,traffic,theft or drug related. Along with the normal citizen complaints of dogs barking or loose, kids on the corner and so on as well as helping the citizens along with EMT and Fire dept. Chief Trachta has done a good job given the resources he has to draw from. 2 full time officers,and many part-time officers. Some of which have other full time police jobs which demand their time. I believe Chief Trachta had the outline right at the last Council Mtg. But Council has it's own agenda as usual that may or may not actually benefit the people of Nazareth. For some reason it is apparent they wish to not support their own dept BUT will spend more to have another cover the Borough. It is ashame they couldn't come to terms with Upper but I would bet politics played a big role in that falling through seein as it isn't dicussed with the public. Apparently the decision will need to come from the outside not the citizens that pay taxes. VOTE .
Ben Miller December 03, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Also, there is the American Hotel, Sicily Pizza has a license and Mivajo's Pizza (not sure if they're in the borough). Is Sal's still open on Spring St? I think the Chief was counting distributors in there too. Here's the link to active licenses- http://www.lcbapps.lcb.state.pa.us/webapp/Agency/SearchCenter/PublicLicenseeSearchDisplay.asp I'd love to see Nazareth PD stay active, but it doesn't seem financially feasible or practical when you factor in the population growth vs. municipal resources available. The Mayor and Council are entering these talks with Colonial and Upper Nazareth under the assumption that they have the upper hand and can call the shots. They fail to understand that the borough's police issues and lack of funds are very public and take away any bargaining leverage they may have had. The mayor should also consider in with negotiations, the sale of current police equipment and profits from that. The only logical choice at this point, after the Mayor and Council have burned so many bridges, is to contract with Colonial Regional.
Nazy Local December 03, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Maybe it's time that "Citizens on Patrol" becomes real life. Let's get out there and kick some butt! It's time to take back our town!
rick troxell December 03, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Hey Ben, Valid points. All but one. The council has never spoken a real dollar figure concerning a NPD supported byn taxpayers. And last Dec the mayor bowed out with Colonial. It makes no difference so long as the coverage is 24/7 everyday in town. I pay tax here and expect at the very least that . Anything else given the shape the town is in is insufficient in my eyes. And if the town can keep their own for the same or a minimal dollar figure more than I say we pusrsue having our own. There are dollars to be made towards the police dept by the police dept if council would allow them to do so and stay out of the way. Either way this ends up I will support the decision if it makes sense and provides what I feel the people of Nazareth deserve. My opion. I do have a son that works part-time in the Borough and that has no effect on how I feel. If he were not here I would still feel the same.
Ben Miller December 03, 2012 at 10:43 PM
I think you're right on the money with most of your comments, Rick. The Mayor and Council could have solved the problem and failed the citizens miserably. It never should have reached this point. Look at the local Fire Dept, Vigilance. They are well-equipped, very professionally run and as the population has grown, they have too. The Nazareth Police Chief, love him or hate him, has never had the resources he needed to properly protect the citizens of Nazareth. This increase the Council is talking about for the hiring of one more officer is bizarre. Nazareth PD used to have six full-time officers. Look at it from a business model, as the demand for police coverage increased with additional population and additional criminal activity, the city leaders have voted to decrease the supply of police coverage through loss by attrition. Now, we have two full-time officers and obviously, it's not enough. I have always found the Nazareth PD to be professional and very good at what they do, but when they are vastly under-staffed, their hands are tied. Every day that passes without the Mayor and Council coming up with a solution is another day that the people of Nazareth are put in jeopardy, along with the officers who do not have adequate backup. They Mayor and Council should be hounded every day until they fix this- either bring the Nazareth PD to 6-10 full time officers or immediately contract with Colonial Regional for 24 hour coverage with at least two roaming officers.
Ben Miller December 03, 2012 at 10:46 PM
To go further on that comparison between the FD and the PD, consider that as more people and business moved into the borough, newer equipment was purchased. As the population increased, the ambulance became a paid staff and grew. Why hasn't the same thing been done with the police?
rick troxell December 03, 2012 at 11:23 PM
The ambulance is no longer an entity of the Borough. They belong to a private company. The fire dept is excellent yet when the borough paid a consultant a few years ago to evaluate the need for a ladder truck and new rescue truck and had agreed to oblige the findings they purchased a ladder truck (all be it good) that was a demonstrator truck with time and mileage on it and never followed up on the rescue truck. Again the Vigilance is to be commended for their diligence and committment to the people of Nazareth. As for 6-10 full time officers i couldn't agree more but I do agree that Chief Trachta presented a reasonable plan to council last month that would be a good start and a foundation the Borough could work with if allowed to grow without council interference by using grants,training,and being allowed to participate in county and state wide law enforcement initiatives as Colonial has done and suceeded in creating a professional police dept that has been cost effective and professional. My point is that first and foremost we should get real figures to have our own. Be it from the State or an entity other than Council before we move forward for the reason why? have they allowed the dept to not grow while growing most other public services? they clearly appear to not be qualified or interested in having a borough police dept. I find it very confusing. 24/7 two officers is what I sek
Molly McFee December 04, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Wrong Troxell..... don't vote. RUN for OFFICE! Stop complaining and whining constantly about Council and the Mayor and do something about it. If you love this town as much as you say you do, volunteer your time and make a difference. Lots of open positions coming up. Go for it. You seem to know a lot about what goes on... you'd be a perfect candidate!
Smalltown Girl December 04, 2012 at 03:09 AM
I live next door to the TownHouse. They very seldom have nusiance patrons. The American Hotel is known to have drugs, drunks, and violent crime constantly and chroniclly. Cure the disease. Stop treating the symptoms.
Clem December 04, 2012 at 03:54 AM
PA Mon, are you the one on drugs and drunk? You must be nuts. You make it sound like a war zone in Nazareth. If your that scared see a therapist or move out of town.
Clem December 04, 2012 at 03:56 AM
The American is a bar that has the same reputation now as it did 40 plus years ago.
alivettg December 04, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Until the night you do have an issue, maybe even a very serious issue, whether next to a bar or on a street with no bars... And you need police help, and no one comes for over 45 minutes....just then you may see the seriousness in this. Sometimes people(council) need to put ASIDE their political agendas( past police staff issues, personal issues, etc)and not let ONE MAN( mayor) , whom could care less about this town any longer(if ever did?) influence them!! He is the one that's CLEARLY stated he wants to disband the police dept. along with rev Matz. Well, guess what, they are (were) the ones with such BIG personal vendettas towards our Chief, so its time to GET OVER IT! Council needs to man up and do what's RIGHT, and let our chief make a run of it! And stay out of his way in the process! This whole things is so obvious, and the stalling tactic here is pathetic!
Ben Miller December 04, 2012 at 04:31 AM
The fact is, Council and the Mayor allowed the department to deteriorate over the years to a shell of what it once was. We don't need a ramp-up plan or some other building block situation, we need a fully-functioning department now. Because of the Mayor and Council's mismanagement of the department for well over a decade, it is now cost prohibitive to establish the department Nazareth Borough needs. Nazareth needs 6-10 full-time officers to cover all the shifts, in addition with some part time officers on the beat. Among those full-timers needs to be at least two detectives, preferably three, to address situations that require a full investigation, like drug enforcement and violent crimes. Instead of waiting for meth labs to explode, gangs to come into Nazareth or kids to die drug-related deaths, wouldn't we all prefer the way things used to be? There used to be a focus on not just dealing with crimes that had been committed, but on preventing crimes. Two cops on the beat around the clock isn't going to accomplish that. All they can do is react after the fact. Say there is a fight at the American Hotel and the police are called, but don't show up until almost an hour later and a man is killed in his front lawn, wouldn't you think that would be the last straw? Nope. Say there is a rash of arson fires around town, wouldn't you think they'd be investigated and the person stopped before burning down a house and endangering a child? Nope. What's it going to take?
rick troxell December 04, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Council has its. Onstr Council has its. Constraints due to civil service yet they have yet to present a figure to keep it local. What is it that prevents that figure? Molly my intent is to run for a council seat in the next election. Will I fit? Or will I question to much as heckman did in the past.I do believe the borough deserves better in judgement. But does the borough really care? Apparently that is a question to be answered. See you at the polls
Ben Miller December 04, 2012 at 03:36 PM
I might have put it differently then Clem, but I agree. Nazareth is far from the town you described in your comment. I've spent most of my life here and I know it very well. While I grew up in Lower Nazareth and now live in Upper Nazareth, it's a small community. Our schools are in the borough, the businesses we visit, the library and so much more. I lived for 5 years in the heart of Allentown with my family and what you described fits there perfectly. Not Nazareth.
sherry December 08, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Inadequate police coverage is just sickening to me. IMHO that is the first thing our tax dollars should be for--the safety of its citizens. I don't understand nor do I care to delve into WHY council & the Mayor are not doing their civic duty...It needs to be fixed. NOW. Give the Police Chief the full-time officers he needs and Council & the Mayor need to stop standing in the way of our citizens safety. They may say they have our best interests in mind, but their actions PROVE otherwise.
rick troxell December 09, 2012 at 11:37 PM
If the issue is raising taxes,then how can they afford to spend an extra 200.000 a year to be prtected by an outside dept. proposal reads 2.8 million for a three year contract.(not knowing the type or daily hours of in town coverage) current bdget is 720,000.00 approx. Give the chief the increase and see what he does with it. Lacking the Council interferance. What a crock.
Wayne Schissler December 10, 2012 at 11:20 AM
I've a question... the borough's website seems pretty lacking in this sort of info. Where does one find info on Nazareth's budgets, both current and past? Information about when a councilman's term expires? Is there an internet source for this information or does one have to visit borough hall or Memorial Library? Seems like the logical next step in this and other conversations being held on the subject. We can complain all we want or we can "raise up" candidates that will have the priorities that reflect the community's needs and desires.
rick troxell December 10, 2012 at 09:22 PM
You can acquire all the info you seek from the Borough Council Secretary and the Borough Hall. Street level of Police Station on South Main Street. I do believe that if you search the Borough website the councilpersons term info is posted along with contact #s and wards as well as commissions they sit on. Also is a calendar of all commision and council workshop and mtg. Hope this helps


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