In the wake of the recent resignation of Police Chief Paul Hughes and staffing difficulties in the department, Ford City Borough Council heard from another segment of law enforcement.
Station Commander Lieutenant Eric Simko of the Pennsylvania State Police based in Kittanning attended the Ford City monthly public meeting last night to address Council.
“The reason I came tonight was just because of the fluctuation and instability you’ve had within the local police here,” he said. “I’m here to answer an questions or even to make a comment. I understand that, as a municipality, you like to have your own police force. We’re here to either supplement them or we are available for a full-time service if that’s the route you have chosen to take. But if you have any questions of me, I would answer them for you.”
Council President Carol Fenyes appreciated the gesture, and left Simko’s offer open for the future.
“First of all, we appreciate your willingness to fill in on the shifts that are sparse at this point,” Fenyes responded. “We are working diligently to bring some more officers in to supplement our force. I would love to have a dialogue regarding what services you do offer.”
Indeed, Council last night did move to hire Christopher J. Arthur as a part-time officer at a wage of $17 per hour. The motion to hire was made by Councilwoman Beth Bowser and seconded by Councilwoman Mary Alice Bryant. While the motion passed, Councilman Marc Mantini opposed, saying he felt the Borough should hold off because “of the things that have happened.”
In addition, Council also voted to hire Scott Hazlett based on the recommendation of Mayor Cogley as a full-time police officer to be paid $21.31 per hour. Hazlett will not receive any benefits. He was previously employed by Ford City several years ago, but left the force during Chief Michael Greenlee’s administration. Mantini again opposed the hiring, and Councilman Tyson Klukan abstained, but didn’t state why.
Council did not motion to advertise the position of Chief of Police, but instead deferred all questions to Mayor Jeff Cogley, who was not at last night’s meeting due to his work schedule.
“At this time, there is no Chief, and no Officer-In-Charge,” Fenyes said. This led to speculation that Ford City may once again look to its current officers to choose a successor to Hughes.
Council had met in executive session last Monday night in executive session to discuss the resignation of Hughes, but did not elaborate on the meeting.