Friday, July 13, 2018

Forks Tp Constable in Hot Water With Review Board

Gordon Crowell in 2014. You can add a beard today.
Forks Tp Constable Gordon Crowell, Jr. is facing a serious inquiry by county officials based on allegations that he misrepresented himself on three different occasions as a Forks Tp. police officer and undercover detective. A constable review board established by former President Judge Stephen Baratta conducted interviews yesterday in response to a complaint filed by Forks Tp Detective Philomena Kelly.

What are constables?

Constables are elected officials who serve six-year terms. Their primary role is service of minor arrest warrants and other legal process for the Magisterial District Courts, such as eviction notices, and prisoner transport. They are required to maintain order at the polls on election day.

Though it is a Constitutional office that have existed in Pennsylvania since 1664, the constable system has been criticized as one that is open to abuse by armed officers who have minimal training and no oversight. As a result, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted standards in 2013 designed to professionalize them  To be certified, they must undergo 40 hours of training every year, including 20 hours of firearms training.

Northampton County has 37 certified constables, including Crowell.

What is the Constable Review Board?

Part of these standards also include the establishment of  Constable Review Boards in each county to provide some oversight. In Northampton County, this Board includes the following: Judge Baratta, Magisterial District Judge Dan Corpora, Constable Kevin Spano, Acting Sheriff Rich Johnston, Controller Richard "Bucky" Szulborski, Fiscal Affairs Director Steve Barron and Magisterial District Court Administrator Debbie French.

For complaints that might result in the suspension or termination of a constable, the Review Board is required to interview the complainant, constable and all other relevant witnesses. The Board must report any suspected criminal activity to the District Attorney. After completing interviews, it makes a recommendation to the President Judge, who is the ultimate authority on a constable's continued work in Northampton County.

Who is Constable Gordon Crowell, Jr? 

Crowell, a former security officer for the Allentown School District, was elected constable in 2014. He also provides security or traffic control at Notre Dame Green Pond High School. He is the Treasurer of the Pa. Fraternal Order of Constables. Ron Clever, who is their Solicitor, is representing Crowell. 

Crowell and the Flagman

In 2017, there was a great deal of road work being done all summer in Forks Towsnhip, on Sullivan Trail and other roads. Ten and fifteen minute waits were common, and Detective Kelly observed that it even affected police officers. It was during one of these waits that Crowell and a flagman had an altercation in which the flagman decided to call police.

According to Kelly, the flagman was approached by Crowell, who had been waiting in traffic with his wife. Police reports indicate that Crowell became unruly and said he would have the flagman thrown in jail. He warned the flagman he would be working later that night and that he would be calling "my captain."  Parts of this conversation could be heard on a 911 tape. Kelly said that she never heard Crowell identify himself as a police officer, but did hear him say "my captain." Based on this and he flagman's statement, she believed that Crowell had insinuated he was a police officer. Later that evening, Crowell admitted to Forks Tp police officers that he had said "my captain."

Crowell testified that he was waiting in line with his wife, and people were getting unruly and beeping their horns. He decided to approach the flagman and ask him if he needed help, identifying himself as a constable. He noticed that the flagman was texting someone from his phone instead of monitoring traffic. He said that flagman responded, "Shut the  f--- up, you rent-a-cop! Get back in the car!" He denies he threatened to throw the flagman in jail.

Crowell and the near accident 

In May of this year, Crowell was backing his car into his driveway on Sullivan Trail, a very busy road, and was very nearly clipped by a female as she was on her way to Weiss food store. She admitted that she threw her hands up at the near collision, but continued. When she reached the traffic light to turn into Weiss, Crowell pulled alongside her. He told this motorist that he was a police officer and undercover detective. When she asked for his badge number, he said it was B4119. This is actually Crowell's constable certification number. The driver reported this incident to police.

According to Crowell, the woman screamed at him after nearly hitting him as he attempted to back into his driveway. She yelled, "You f---ing cops think you can do anything you want! You're going to kill somebody!" She also gave him the finger.

Though he was backing into his driveway to park his car, Crowell suddenly realized that he needed to pick up his mail, and pulled out and was behind this woman. He admits they exchanged words at the light, but denies he misrepresented himself as a police officer.

Later that night, Crowell testified he was visited twice by "aggressive" Forks Tp police officers. The second visit was after he had gone to sleep. Since he had taken a sleep aid, he is unable to remember what he said.

Crowell and Magisterial District Judge Taschner

In the course of her typically thorough approach, Detective Kelly visited Magisterial District Judge Jacqueline Taschner and her staff.  Detective Kelly learned that Judge Taschner had stopped using Crowell because of his unprofessional behavior to her staff. She also learned that Crowell had told her staff that he was working under cover for the Forks Tp Police Department.

Crowell admitted that he no longer works for Judge Taschner, but that was his own decision because he was too busy. He denied telling staff members that he was working under cover for Forks Police or behaving unprofessionally. He was corroborated by Constable Jon Whittington. "I would not have allowed it," he said.

Light Bar

Kelly indicated that she also had received reports that Crowell had used a light bar on his vehicle with illegal red and blue lights. When Attorney Clever queried her about It, she produced a picture. She said he was never cited for this violation because she never noticed it.

Crowell indicated that the red and blue light bar on his vehicle is gone.

Why No Criminal charges?

Either Barron or Szulborski asked Kelly why she never filed criminal charges against Crowell for impersonating a police officer. She explained that some elements were missing.

Impersonating a police officer requires proof that someone pretended to be a police officer. It also requires proof that the pretense is intended to cause the person who is fooled into performing some action to his or her detriment.

Interviews to Continue

More interviews are expected at a later date.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is very unfortunate. You see many of these fake cops let it all go to their heads. Many drive old beat to shit former cop cares, They wear fake cop outfits and have more crap hanging off of their fake cop belts than Batman.

If found guilty he should be removed as a Constable. Obviously there are psychological problems and no one needs any of that with any kind of authority.

Anonymous said...

We do not need these people except for election duties. Let the sheriff do this job and collect the fees related to the actions. In most wards one write in vote can get you a police badge, a whistle and a pair of cuffs. The system is subject to abuse. I had a run in years ago with a constable trying to serve my next door neighbor. He knocked on my door and demanded to know where this individual was. I honestly did not know at which point he threatened me with arrest. The system must go.

Anonymous said...

A NORCO constable showed up at my place of business and hauled a guy out of the building in handcuffs. He was looking for a guy with the same name but different middle name. Our guy produced ID. The older constable said the address he had was close enough ... different house number, East something vs west something. It was a distinction a blithering imbecile could have discerned in two minutes. The guy couldn’t figure out how to call on his smartphone and handed it to our guy to call the magistrate after Barney Fake Fyfe hung up on the office twice. The guy was a mix of obnoxious and completely incompetent. Our guy was embarrassed and ashamed and lost 40 minutes productivity waiting in handcuffs for an official idiot to be told what day it was. I paid my guy. Barney whined about hoping he’d still get paid for his trouble in making trouble for everyone he encountered. It’s shocking that people like this are even permitted out of their homes. How do you fight back against official incompetence like this?

Anonymous said...

This guy sounds mellow compared to a few of the cRaZy ones who think their authority is the same as a legitimate law enforcement officer. Though, a real cop probably wouldn't have pulled the stunts this and other constables have done. The 6 year term is far too long for a community to be terrorized by a nut with a gun and a cardboard badge.

Anonymous said...

Well West Easton can sleep at night because we have Tricia protecting us, just saying.

Anonymous said...

"Identifying himself as a constable" How pathetic, this guy sounds like a real loser. We're all real impressed that you are a constable.

Anonymous said...

constables "good constables" do provide a valuable service in the community. Granted, they should receive more and better training, however, that is presently being addressed. Yes there are "wacko" constables just as their are "wacko" cops, judges, mayors, etc. etc. Mayors certainly do not get the necessary training just like presidents of The United States. They transport prisoners all over the State, they provide eviction services for landlords, they serve subpoenas for witnesses in private lawsuits, plus a long list of other services that would tie up our good police officers and deputy sheriffs. Sure there will always be nut jobs elected as constables but change is taking place.

Anonymous said...

I know a lot of good constables and I know a lot of bad ones. A few bad eggs shouldn’t spoil the bunch.. I think the sheriff should oversee the constables, allow them to partake in the required trainings each year and end this nonsense once and for all. I believe the real problem is that they are ELECTED officials which makes it much more difficult to monitor/supervise/discipline.
Here’s an idea... run against these constables in the next election, after this article the public would be a fool to re elect him.

Bernie O'Hare said...

There was no newspaper reporter at yesterday’s hearing

Anonymous said...

i KNOW ONE IN PARTICULAR bad constable and after all his screw ups he is still a constable it is nothing more than a joke,,and this board u speak of, well it to is a joke...Richard Seeds...one of the worst ever constables, has shot people and animals for no reason but his own...and yet he is still a constable....what a joke....like to meet in a dark alley one night alone and see just how tough he really is...

Bernie O'Hare said...

2:17, Seeds is an elected official, and thus I will allow the comment to stand. But frankly, you should ID yourself when you attack someone.

I know you are completely full of shit in your assessment of the constable review board. First, the board was only formed recently, and has already taken strong action against one and possibly two constables.

Anonymous said...

Keystone cops are better at their jobs than these phony cops.

Anonymous said...

37 constables in Northampton County? Why so many? Hell, we only have 38 municipalities in the county.

Jon B Whittington said...

I have worked with Constable Crowell on a daily basis for over two years. We served hundreds of warrants, did hundreds of prisoner transports and served hundreds of civil papers. There has been Zero complaints filed against him or my five years in Bethlehem. Constable Crowell does his job well and always treats people with respect. I sat threw the entire hearing yesterday and these two incidents that happen was Constable Crowell coming in contact with some hot headed people. In both cases these people swore at him, called him names, flipped him the finger and disrespected him. In Forks Township police report both stated that Constable Crowell did not do anything disrespectful back, that is true professionalism. I have been in several situations that where getting out of hand, Constable Crowell always remained cool, collected and help defuse the situations. Detective Kelly testified that several Constables at Judge Taschner's office had complained about Constable Crowell to her, but she refused to give there names. Well these are constables that Mr. Crowell went to Deputy Court Administrator Debbie French about there transporting of 201 minor children in the back of constable cars in constable uniform for local hospitals. Ms. French did nothing because she said she can't do anything that is not involve with serving the minor courts. So Constable Crowell went to the AG office in Lehigh county. They where very interested in the evidence he provide. They started to investigate and all of the sudden the transports stopped. So you think they mite try to spread some lies about Constable Crowell. One of the Constable's lost his election to a ex-police officer who was fired from about everywhere he work and had a criminal charge that he beat. Northampton county let the man that beat him in the election deputize him. This is the good old boys network at it's best. The people spoke, but he remained a constable anyway. These constables are always bad mouthing other constables because they think it will get them more work if there are less constables. As far as Mr. Crowell be unprofessional with her staff, never in my present have I seen Mr. Crowell be unprofessional with anyone. All Judges that me and Mr. Crowell have worked for have been more than happy with our work and the way we did our job.

Anonymous said...

He lives at the crest of a hill. I have personally waited as he backed into his driveway. I thought by his vehicle a white car, he was a police officer. It is a dangerous place to back up at that spot.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Readers here should know that Whittington is no longer a certified constable and lives in Lebanon County. He was a witness for Crowell and is obviously biased.

As someone with no interest in this matter, I am waiting until all interviews are completed before reaching an opinion. Right now I am Switzerland.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:02, it was a police car that Crowell purchased from Lehigh. It is a tough spot to park, I agree.

Anonymous said...

I hope you were under the influence when you wrote that defense of your buddy. Otherwise, you should be arrested for any number of grammatical and literary violations. Wowza.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:30,
Mezzacappa? One of the reasons the state legislature needs to change the statute that addresses Constables duties. Election records show she was elected as a write-in in an uncontested election with the minimum of 10 votes. She has used her position to harass neighbors with threats of arrest, including one who is a parent of a special needs child. A local blog reported her leaving warnings on vehicles in her neighborhood. She offers to investigate resident complaints, which is prohibited by the the state statute. The rumor is she is now suing West Easton because she thinks somebody dared to give an opinion on what she is and is not able to enforce as a Constable.
The judiciary is smart enough to not use her as an employee, but West Easton has to deal with her because 10 idiots wrote her name on a ballot.

Anonymous said...

So what? They gave him the finger? They cursed at him? Disrespected him? News flash! You give respect to get respect. As far as I know constables do two things... serve warrants and transport prisoners. They don’t have CAPTAINS, they don’t have any special crime units, they can’t make traffic stops... clearly Crowell was frustrated with traffic and was attempting to intimidate the road worker. It’s not in his job description to manage traffic. Like someone else posted, a lot of constables think they are police but they are FAR from it.

Innocent Bystander said...

“Did hundreds of ......hundreds of transports .......- I would dought that .What we have here is.... Exuberance of fantasy! Did he tell you he was in the MARINES too?

Anonymous said...

The PAFOC which Crowell is a member of as well as the PSCA have ranks, Sgt., Lt's and Captains.

I have heard numerous complaints myself about Crowell and knew it would only be a matter of time.

The system is working as it should, there is plenty of training and supervision. The constables are supervised, complaints are investigated and due process is afforded to all parties. I am questioning how the constable review board can investigate Crowell because the only jurisdiction the review has is if the constable was or is doing a judicial duty (working or the court), which in all of these cases he wasn't. The court order establishing the review board is quite clear what authority they have and it is for JUDICIAL duties.

Peter JCochran said...

I did the best as I could as constable in this county . We had no support system when I started about 30 years ago . There were no directions from anyone . Later the Pennsylvania Crime and Deliquancy Commission PCCD - same exact people that train Every Sheriffs Deputy in 67 counties would oversee us . We were being checked ! But - About 30 years ago if I didn’t get threatened about 5 times a week - I was on vacation in the Keys . Otherwise constant phone threats . They didn’t alarm me too much ,as I figured I could shoot myself out of most anything including a wet paper bag .We didn’t have cell phones then . But as it turns out this later part time endevers paid my 30 year mortgage off in 16 or 17 years . I saved $121,000 bucks with those payments and that’s more than I owed. DUH!!! I tried to help some . If I knew some person was being overly banged up by prosecutors I’d raise issues to defense attorney. On the other hand if I was challenged I’d find everything before I pick them up at their most inconvenient time also , it works on their their head that way. But , there is no reason not to do the tasks honorably, and stay beyond reproach. I enjoyed this work and had the honor of dealing with some great NoCar employees ,just wonderful people. But , a man has to know his limitations. Yup that what Inspector Calahan says . I say this poor basterd has integrity issues - but that’s my opinion.

Bernie O'Hare said...

5:56, I agree that the jurisdiction is limited to judicial duties. The flagman incident did not occur in the course of judicial duties. But t he threat, if believed, could be considered a judicial duty, even if it is beyond the scope of his authority. As for the motorist incident, Crowell testified he left his driveway and went back on the road, not to chase after the motorist, but to pick up his official mail. Thus, the incident occurred in the course of his judicial duties by his own admission. As for Judge Taschner, his exchanges with her and her staff were clearly in the course of his judicial duties. Th real question is whether he did misrepresent himself, and if so, what is the appropriate sanction.

Both he and Det Kelly will have another opportunity to present evidence. Until then, I will keep an open mind. Everyone in law enforcement has a difficult job. But there also has to be a mechanism to review complaints about misbehavior.

Anonymous said...

The grammar and spelling of these constables is off the charts. Thank God they are elected and not appointed.

Anonymous said...

Did he also tell everyone that he use to be with the CIA! What a joke! He does nothing but tell lies about his past! They should remove him from office, maybe he should go back to the school district,but oh wait he1was let go from there. The school district doesn't want him either. He tells stories that only he believes. Oh and for his partner well that is story a whole other story in itself. G-man thinks he is ABOVE THE LAW! What a joke! Check out his back ground but wait he probably had someone clean it up for him. He is a snake in the grass and he needs to be run over by a lawnmower! Enough said!

Peter J.Cochran said...

CIA , Marine Corps ,Mayby the fife and drum corps too. Wow. His claim about the mail pick up 25 feet from his parking area is propbably fictional too. The car he bought is an official police car Dodge with a light bar attached when purchased . So for you readers this looked and had need a police car. This guy is an imposter,in more wats than one. This is my opinion . If your a constable and actually capturing people on warrants , you can’t do it effectively driving this car . So his ego is bigger than his abilitiy to capture a anyone.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Sorry my phone wants to correct ‘wats’ should be ways than one. Issue here is this man bought a vehicle that is known to be a Police in the rear view mirror and he displayed it in expense of his possible production as Constable . This is my opinion as observed of him over past months . — I will state this too , he cannot live in the property he lives in on ay income he recieceved ,with taxes s and mortgage if applicable. .

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that he may have some underlying issues and these accusations are more then coincidence. With that being said the Constable Review Board (CRB) MUST prove he did these things while performing a JUDICIAL DUTY...in other words while working for the courts. The accusation with Taschner's could suffice but was he performing a judicial duty by just talking to the clerks? I don't think so. Attorney Clever on top of himself being a longtime constable is very well versed in constable law and duties, he will appeal any decision to a higher court. I think Fork's PD's best route would have been filing a criminal charge against him. Having the light would only be a summary charge and that would be dependent on someone actually seeing red/blue lights on. To my knowledge the light bar was clear in color. As far as further interviews...I'm certain they will present Taschner's staff to testify and probably the female but from what I heard the flagman doesn't want anything more to do with it.

Anonymous said...

What is ole petey saying?