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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nazareth Park "Abduction" Shows Community Policing Weakness

On Sunday night, at least six local police departments, along with the Pennsylvania State Police and FBI, participated in the frantic search for a missing 7 year-old girl. Nazareth was in virtual lockdown as helicopters circled overhead and cruisers raced through town, looking for a mysterious Subaru that seemed to be everywhere and nowhere. The search was eventually called off because, as time ticked away, it appears there never was a missing girl. The supposed abductors may have engaged in an elaborate and cruel hoax. More likely, someone just misunderstood what he or she saw. Police really had no choice but to do what they did. But this tremendous expenditure of manpower shows a serious weakness in the Nazareth Police Department. Under Chief Thomas Trachta, all attempts at community policing have ceased. Had they been in place, this may never have happened.

Yesterday, I told you that there's supposed to be a special police detail at the Borough Park on weekends, from 4 pm until sunset. This detail lasts until the bathrooms are closed for the winter. But Chief Trachta, in a September 1 memo, ended the detail early, though it was part of the approved budget. Had an officer been at the park, it is certainly possible that what was perceived to be an abduction would still have occurred. But it would have been far more unlikely.

Before Trachta became Chief, Nazareth had established a fairly effective community policing program. Trachta ended it. Jack Herbst, a former member of Borough Council Police Committee Chair, explains. "The first decision he made when appointed Chief was to eliminate the community policing policies that Chief Sinclair put in place - crime watch meetings, park officers and bank and business checks."

This is simply insane. According to The National Institute of Justice, in police departments that have tried community policing for just one year, "99 percent reported improved cooperation between citizens and police, 80 percent reported reduced citizens’ fear of crime, and 62 percent reported fewer crimes against persons."

Those business checks were appreciated, as owners sometimes forgot to lock up when they leave for the day. The banks loved it.

Officer Fred Lahovski, who with former Chief Michael Sinclair was a community policing advocate, was ordered to send a notice to local businesses, announcing this termination. "Some time ago, 2008-2009, the police attempted a specific community policing service. It included walking patrol in the business district as well as a month community police meeting. However, due to a variety of circumstances, the program has ceased as a viable entity."

Lahovski attempted to establish an email database for local businesses and residents. For something as simple as a found dog, Officer Lahovski could send a blanket email with pictures and a note like this: "This little guy was found in the unit block of Belvidere St. We got along well after he straightened me and let me know who was boss. We held him for awhile unfortunately had to turn him over to the SPCA. If you know this dog or his owner, please help. FREDDY"

If this could work for a lost dog, it would certainly be something to use when a potential child abduction occurs.

Chief Trachta refused to use the email database. So on Sunday night, when there could have been a real missing child, the public was kept in the dark.

"We can't just blindly give out a description when things are still unfolding," Mayor Carl Strye, a carwash salesman, told The Morning Call. Why the hell not? I'd think that would be the first thing police would do, and would be one way in which the public could assist. Instead, people who were just walking the street at night were accosted and asked what they were doing.

Instead of reaching out to the public, Trachta treats them with disdain.

According to Herbst, "He is the first Chief not to go out on patrol, show his presence at Borough events and refuses to give an extra second of his time to the community. After meeting nights, he'll show up to the office later the next day based on how long the meeting went the night before. Wonder why Bushkill Twp. got to the park before him! I'm surprised that he even showed up at all, but I guess when the big boys got involved, he had no choice."

Numerous police departments responded on Sunday night for a search that really had to occur. But did Trachta call in his officers? No. Instead of calling on all the manpower he had, he let other departments do the work.

They know it, too. One fellow I know was stopped by a fed last night, and asked if he saw anything unusual. This federal officer told a citizen that if he saw anything odd or suspicious, to please call 911. Then as he left, he said, "I got to go see what Cupcake is doing."

Nazareth needs to re-institute community policing. There should be a block watch, business checks, foot patrols. Most importantly, there really needs to be an officer on beat at the park, especially on weekends.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

So just to spitball on this "revelation" you have here. The Park police guy is dropped on 9/1 and on 9/15 this happens. You and the cupcake gang then proceed to attack the Nazareth Police Chief? I doubt most people were aware the Park officer was gone except those who may hang out there or are paying very close attention.

With all the attacks on the
Chief and the shenanigans that have occurred, I am glad the police announced they are looking into if there is more to this incident. If anyone even possibly thought this would be "cute", I hope they are found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Even Johnny Cochran if still alive couldn't get that person or persons off.

Hope that this is not some sick prank of any kind. This is serious business.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The whole point here is that Nazareth police were right to conduct this search, but their community policing failure makes crime against persons far more likely. I doubt that an abductor would try anything if he thought a cop was in the park. That's the whole point of community policing.

Anonymous said...

""We can't just blindly give out a description when things are still unfolding," Mayor Carl Strye, a carwash salesman,"

This says it all. Another unqualified elected official involved in day to day activity. This man has no business speaking to the press as a situation like this is ongoing. If anything, PSP or the Feds should have handed him a script to read.. no more no less.

Anonymous said...

Good Reporting. A council member should take this issue and publicize its warning to all who visit the parks!

Anonymous said...

It's "sticker gang" not "cupcake gang". Cupcake is what Chief Trachta was referred to by a Judge after an entire case was dismissed. After his underling Part time officer Dan Troxell was unable to produce evidence that a criminal act was committed by the accused.

Anonymous said...

Couple years back the walking cop came into to YMCA with another cop in a McGruff outfit to visit the daycare kids. It was neat!

Anonymous said...

KFC = KOCH FOR CHIEF
KFC = KOCH FOR CHIEF
KFC = KOCH FOR CHIEF
KFC = KOCH FOR CHIEF
KFC = KOCH FOR CHIEF
KFC = KOCH FOR CHIEF
KFC = KOCH FOR CHIEF

He was the DARE officer, and the only person who people who grew up in this town still know today!

Anonymous said...

FT = FIRE TRACHTA
FT = FIRE TRACHTA
FT = FIRE TRACHTA
FT = FIRE TRACHTA
FT = FIRE TRACHTA

I know you read these comments every morning CUPCAKE!

Anonymous said...

Why is this guy still the Chief of Police in Nazareth boro? Who does he own? Must be some serious dirt he's carrying around as insurance. Fire him..now!

Anonymous said...

Silly you. Don't you know council wants to lose their seat then they don't have to be afraid of cupcake,or deputy dogg, or rubber boy of hassling them.so vote mayor Dinkle pussy.ouuuuuut and council ouuuuut. Then elect younger members in and kick cupcake out and his two stooges will follow one with his tail between his legs the other dragging his condom behind him. Ha mayor Dinkle pussy (Bingo)get it we know what you did ❗

Anonymous said...

Is there a top 5 "Speculation" list as to what really happened?

Anonymous said...

I think you are right on target here Bernie. I see cars of other municipalities sitting randomly at banks, etc. With the fleet of shiny cars Nazareth has, why not use them? Also foot soldiers walking up and down the streets - good exercise and good community contact. In a community like Nazareth, a cop in the park in season makes perfect sense.

Anonymous said...

"He was the DARE officer, and the only person who people who grew up in this town still know today!"

I don't know Koch, but being the DARE officer and knowing people does NOT qualify you to be chief. No way, no how.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't favor the micro-managing done in many small boroughs, either. In the final analysis, this is a decision for professional law enforcement. That does not include a chief who does away with community policing.

In the meantime, our leaders on council have kicked the can down the road.

Anonymous said...

Our cruisers are equipped with iPads to monitor the park. Why hasn't anyone released information about the footage from the park? There cameras all over there and the police cruiser was sitting in the park before this all went down. He left and 5 mins later chaos breaks loose! Seriously?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Had that officer stuck around a bit longer, I bet this would never have happened.

Anonymous said...

Word on the street is that the perpetrators of this hoax will be faced with a 5 figure bill minimum. Looks like your little band of rebels will be paying interest on the case they dodged earlier this summer, maybe you can start a commune above Army Navy it would save money on heat in the winter all those young nubile bodies curled up together.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I love the assumptions here. We start with the assumption that it was a hoax, and not someone who is mentally ill or who may have simply been confused. From there we go on to assume that it must have been someone in or connected to the Sticker Gang. Fortunately, courts don't make conclusions based on assumptions. That's only in the world of Internet trolls.

Anonymous said...

More cupcake photos please.

Anonymous said...

"I love the assumptions here"

I find them interesting. It does make one wonder. Given the intense hatred towards the Nazareth Police by some.

Bernie O'Hare said...

There is yet another assumption. So far as I know, nobody hates the Nazareth PD. So far as I know, nobody hates Trachta, at least nobody in my circle. He is a bad police chief who abuses his office and violates civil rights. He is a poor manager of the police force, and needs to be replaced. That is what is in the best interst of Nazareth. There is nothing remotely personal in my criticism. I don't play that game. I leave that to you anonymous trolls.

Anonymous said...

Make the sticker gang a community watch patrol like the angels in NY, they can trot around smoking cigs keeping the peace while Trachta putzes around in his SWAT golf cart.

Bernie O'Hare said...

There you go.

Anonymous said...

It's not a gold cart. It's official name is called Trachta's EM50!!!!! For those of you who remember the movie stripes! He even uses it for his daily CUPCAKE runs and has a special safety seat for kid cupcake Dan Troxell.

Anonymous said...

"from drugs on the basketball court to vandalism."

The sticker goons know all about defacing property. One would think that would have been a wake up call because of their close escape from justice. However, some people are what they are. They appear to have no limits and don't understand reality. It may have been only a matter of time.

We shall see how this all shakes out. Word is the sate police are looking into it. No paydays here.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I sure hope so. If Trachta andTroxell put it together, it's bound to be a loser. You convicted the Sticker Gang on charges that were laughed out of court. You now have convicted them again, when no one has suggested they had anything to do with this. You have a personal vendetta against people you don't even know. And you are defaming them, one of your specialties.

Anonymous said...

Since there was never any abduction, the cop-in-the-park-as-deterrent logic is faulty. I don't like Chief Cupcake. But this is more about a busybody who didn't like the way a parent or guardian was controlling their child. The police should investigate the busybody, at this point.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Just as a park police officer would have deterred an abduction, ihe or she would have deterred a false report about one. This might have been a busybody, a cruel hoaxster, someone who was terribly confused but concerned or someone with emotional issues. It is a crime to make a false report, but not to report something you honestly think is amiss. Another concern I have is the reaction. I do not fault police for leaving no stone unturned, not even Trachta. But when taking in a report about something like this, you really need to assess the situation. When you concentrate a lot of manpower in one area, you are depleting it elsewhere. Someone could take advantage of that. Who made this report? Was the person reliable? I do not fault Trachta on the heavy response, and would rather see police respond to a false alarm than stay away from a real one. But they need to make sure someone does not have an ulterior motive that extends beyond a prank.

Anonymous said...

The police are investigating for sure. Maybe a busybody maybe not. Time will tell. Accusing the Chief and an officer of "setting it up" is just nuts.

Mr. O'Hare can make comment disappear but not the investigation.

Anonymous said...

"Accusing the Chief and an officer of "setting it up" is just nuts."

Who accused the Chief and an officer of setting it up? O'Hare left your comment, which shows how magnanimous he is.

Anonymous said...

Nobody has yet accused Trachta or one of his minions.

The nutz are out in force trying to put the focus on the sticker gang or respected officers that Trachta doesn't like, which only makes people wonder if the nutz shouldn't be looked at more closely.

Ryan goodine said...

We have a great police force. I don't know enough about the chief to form an opinion though