Nazareth Police Chief Thomas Trachta was given the green light to choose four potential part-time officers who will be interviewed by borough council's Police Committee.
According to Trachta, he is still strapped for officers because:
- A full-time officer is on workers’ compensation and is expected to be out until April 2012.
- A second full-time officer may be offered a police chief's position in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area.
- A third full-time officer injured his ankle on the job, but is expected to be back to work Sept. 28.
- A part-time officer who works 32 hours a week asked that his hours be scaled back.
"I have been waiting over 10 months for the replacement of officers," Trachta said Monday night at the committee meeting.
In reference to council approving the , who started Sept. 6, Trachta said he feels the “department moves one baby step forward and three giant steps backward.”
“If Council is unwilling to hire full-time officers, I’m requesting four new part-time police officers,” Trachta said. “I need more people to fill the spots.”
Trachta went on to ask the borough to “be proactive and start considering some of my recommendations.”
Trachta asked when he could start hiring.
“When [Nazareth] Borough Council gives you permission,” said Councilman Larry Stoudt, the committee chairman.
“You gave me the same exact answer one month ago,” Trachta countered.
Stoudt explained that the “rules haven’t changed.”
“The rules are the rules,” Stoudt said. “That’s the way it’s been done for years now.”
After the exchange with Stoudt, Trachta asked if he could hire four part-time offiers.
“If you can find them,” Stoudt said.
After Trachta said he could easily find four candidates, Stoudt advised him to bring their names to the committee so they can be interviewed -- at a date not yet set. He also said the topic would be brought up at the next council workshop.
Trachta discussed the qualifications of one candidate, who is a detective with 15 years of police experience in Pennsylvania. He is also a National Rifle Association firearms instructor.
“I think it would be a good thing [to hire this officer],” Trachta said. “Plus, he would be a mentor for the younger guys.”
According to Trachta, the candidate currently works for a Northampton County department -- he would not specify which one -- and is willing to hold a 32-hour patrolman's position.
Trachta added that this detective has experience with the Pennsylvania Justice Network, or JNET, which provides full-time officers with access to 20 secure databases.
“I’ve been trying to get [JNET] for quite some time,” Trachta said, adding that he was unable to in the past because he was only a part-time officer.
“JNET doesn’t recognize part-timers,” Tracha explained. “Only full-time officers have access to it. It’s very obtrusive, so they want someone with vested interest utilizing it.”
Trachta added that “to have somebody around who knows how to use [JNET] would be an asset. He could show me and help me out with it.”
When asked how much JNET costs, Trachta said it would be of no cost to the borough.
Trachta also asked about the status of negotiations between and Nazareth.
"Same as it was before,” said Mayor Fred Daugherty, meaning the borough will not move forward with negotiations until personnel matters are resolved -- these matters are discussed behind closed doors in executive sessions.
Trachta then asked about the status of police merger talks between Upper Nazareth Township and Nazareth.
"Nothing,” Stoudt said simply.
Finally, Trachta asked about the status of the Nazareth Police Department.
“We’re just trying to keep our heads above water,” Stoudt said.