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Police Chief Asks to Purchase New Television

Nazareth Borough Council denied Police Chief Thomas Trachta's request to reconnect the cable to a donated television, but he's hoping council will allow a new -- and approved -- television.

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."

Eric Harding February 21, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Well, that was better.. but you can still see the tensions. Trachta has the chance to fix everything here. It sounds like Daugherty may be open to suggestion at this point. Things are looking up for Nazareth!
93GEO-Metro February 22, 2012 at 04:59 PM
"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" Radio offers the same thing whether it be AM or FM and some of the stations give updates on news every 10 minutes. And is FREE unlike cable.
SLR April 20, 2012 at 12:03 AM
But then they'd get accused of using the radio for personal use because they have to listen to music to get to the updates.
SLR April 20, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Maybe Officer Lahovski used his personal card because purchases by the department have to be approved by council...and council wouldn't be convening before they ran out. Sounds like more stupid bureaucratic "My ego is more important than an actually functioning (fill in government agency here)" red tape. IT WAS FINGERPRINTING SUPPLIES. It wasn't a dvd player to go with their cable-less television. Something is seriously askew with this Boro Council.

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