Nazareth Borough wants to establish a better training and certification process for police officers who work for neighboring departments.
“[Part-time officers are] working for other departments and we’re picking up the full tab,” said Jack Herbst, chairman of Nazareth Borough Council’s Police Committee. “I don’t think we should be paying for part-timers’ training. Our taxpayer dollars are going to benefit other departments.”
Nazareth Borough employs two full-time officers and seven part-time officers. The full-time officers are ensured 40 hours of training, because it’s a stipulation in their contract.
Police Chief Thomas Trachta explained that no officer can hit the street until they comply with Act 120.
According to the Municipal Police Officers’ Education & Training Commission (MPOETC), the general rule for police training under Act 120 is:
All municipalities of this Commonwealth or groups of municipalities acting in concert and all colleges and universities shall be required to train all members of their police departments pursuant to this subchapter prior to their enforcing criminal laws, enforcing moving traffic violations under Title 75 (relating to vehicles) or being authorized to carry a firearm.
The problem for Herbst is the annual MPOETC in-service training curriculum.
“Historically, we’ve been a training ground for other police departments,” Herbst noted.
But more often than not, Trachta noted, the cost evens out.
Due to scheduling conflicts, he explained, three officers were unable to attend a recent first-aid training. Those three officers will likely receive certification during a training at their second or third employer.
“It kind of works out. It depends on the schedule,” Trachta said. “That’s three people we didn’t pay for. My point is, there’s nobody really getting taken advantage of.”
Trachta also said he can’t skirt around the mandatory training.
“If I don’t train [the officers], I could get shut down,” he said. “The state can come in and shut us down if they find out I didn’t keep up with training. I think it would behoove us to keep them certified.”
Mayor Fred Daugherty Jr. agreed with his police chief.
“If you’re going to have officers in the street, you’re going to have to train them,” he said. “Overall, you’re just going to have to grin and bear some of this. It’s part of having a department.”
Daugherty rhetorically asked, “Do you want to depend on someone else, or do you want to train your guys and make sure it’s done right and they’re trained to the best of their ability?”
Herbst said he would contact neighboring police departments to discuss how to better handle the in-service training for shared officers.