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Nazareth Looks to Revamp Certification Process for Shared Police Officers

Nazareth Borough Council's Police Committee will contact neighboring police departments to discuss how to better handle annual training -- and associated costs -- for shared officers.

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.

JASON GABRIEL January 23, 2013 at 04:42 PM
J. HERBST, simply put: an officer who does not complete mandatory updates shall not remain certified within the commonwealth. For what you are proposing to spend for video equipment, you can certify 2 officers completely, this would be inclusive of mileage reimbursement if so desired. Why, if I may ask, is equipment being paid for from a training fund? Would it be a better decision to deduct the proposed amt of purchase from an equipment fund? That way, perhaps, one of the full time officers could receive additional training over and above the mandatory updates.
rick troxell January 25, 2013 at 01:00 AM
Actually the problem appears to be a reason to disband the dept. Although it is baffling when they are willing to finance another agenda at 2.8 million over 3 years. Pretty sure the state government will be stepping in to investigate shortly. at least hopefully
Wayne Schissler January 25, 2013 at 03:30 AM
Why does it always seem that when it comes to the borough and its running of the police department "the problems" are the mandatory requirements to run the department? Just like the "problem" of paying for workman's compensation - the basic cost of doing business that all employers have to deal with. There must be discretionary areas that can be cut or not added to future budgets. Please explain why we are constantly reading that it's the police department that needs to be cut or even eliminated. It everything else in the budget sacrosanct?

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