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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Police Department That Hosted Eric Frein Manhunt Might Be Absorbed

Though I usually don't ramble too far from the Lehigh Valley, I thought it might be interesting to stay into Monroe County's Barrett Township. That sparsely populated and isolated area was the focal point of the exhaustive manhunt last year for Eric Frein. He has been charged in the ambush murder of one state trooper and the critical wounding of another. This incident made the residents there appreciate police officers instead of taking them for granted. You can still see blue ribbons around the trees. But to the Supervisors, it's all about the money. They want to dissolve their police department and merge with Pocono Mountain Regional, Supervisors claim it will save $200,000. But how long will residents in this rural area wait for a response to a police call?

Whether it is police, fire or other municipal services, regionalization should always be explored. But the devil is always in the details. The Bi-County Health Department failed, in large part, because the plan was poorly conceived. Though a proposed Memorandum of Understanding has been posted online, residents seem concerned about the response times for police calls. A Facebook Page, Save Barrett Police Department, has attracted 117 members thus far. Residents are up in arms about this merger, and accusations that Supervisors are getting their driveways plowed by township road crews are swirling about.

From what I can see, all police officers currently employed in Barrett Township would become part of this larger force, including its chief. There are numerous advantages of a larger and more professional force, some of which are detailed by the state DCED.  There is better training, more technology and more room for advancement. But in a rural area, questions of police coverage are legitimate and should be answered.


Anonymous said...


You should also look into Coolbaugh Township, the most populated member of Pocono Mountain Regional PD (around 20K). As of now 4 municipalities make up PMRPD. They cover I think around 200 square miles with just 36 members currently. Even though one village alone (Tobyhanna which is in Coolbaugh Township--not to be confused with Tobyhanna Township next door) has 11,000 residents alone!!! Often less than 5 officers are on the street covering the over 7 zones they already have at PMRPD. Easton PD has more officers for just 4.4 square miles.

Many in Monroe County's public safety world question the response time if large and spread out Barrett is added to the mix. It took PMRPD 28 minutes to have the first officer arrive to a Coolbaugh Township domestic with a machete in September. That's what happens when you schedule so few on the street at one point of a shift.

See, the "Patrol units" members buy is not man on the street hours. That's hour's total. So if there is an investigation those hours are it. If there is court time, those hours are it. Barrett's 120 hours won't be a whole much of anything as soon as one actual crime takes place in Barrett.

Then there was the Police Commission cover-up of the now former chief (Lehigh Valley resident) Harry Lewis's and his lost gun. Which would have remained a secret had it not been for the sudden scoop that now Weather Channel AM star, Reagan Medgie broke. (Then after Lewis left to sell cars, it was discovered another tax payer funded gun issued to him was sold to a police commission member. That is an awful lot of gun moving for a chief of police).

Oh, and did I mention, Coolbaugh which is the ONLY township to boarder Barrett, may pull out of PMRPD in the next two years? And the PMRPD commission is in a law suit with Coolbaugh Township right now. (Coolbaugh pays 44% of PMRPD's expenses right now).

If you want to tout a regional department that works great, go south in Monroe County to Stroud Area Regional. Who cover less ground and have more officers. (Even though Coolbaugh and Tobyhanna townships have serious problems with gangs from NJ & NY. Plus three major sporting events a year at Pocono Raceway, also in PMRPD's turf).

The problem is that the Scranton area TV news has no interest in covering the questionable business that goes on with the PMRPD's commission. The Pocono Record no longer has a beat writer covering events there. And Blue Ridge Cable is an infomercial for the political gang that make up the 10 member commission.

This blog story is perhaps the biggest coverage this behind the door negotiation that Coolbaugh Township & their commission representatives were intentionally left out of.

And, what are the number of regional police departments now versus ten years ago? The numbers might surprise you.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I think the figure is around $2.1 million a year Coolbaugh pays for PMRPD, Coolbaugh leaves, you think Barrett keeps a bargain?