WILKES-BARRE — Four city police officers with a combined 63 years of experience were promoted Wednesday during a ceremony at City Hall.
Mayor Tom Leighton announced the promotions of: Ralph Elick (16 years) from detective to lieutenant; Joe Mangan (12 years) sergeant to detective; Phil Myers (12 years) from patrolman to sergeant; and Al Rodriquez (23 years) from patrolman to sergeant.
The base salary of a police lieutenant is $65,674 per year; detective and sergeant base salary is $63,138.
“This is a very special day here at City Hall,” Leighton said. “This week has been an extraordinary week for public safety in the City of Wilkes-Barre and for its residents. Our top priority has been and always will be the safety of this city and its residents.”
Leighton seized the opportunity to announce the two new police officers — hired with 9 others back in February — have completed mandatory training and will be sworn in Friday at 6 p.m. at City Hall.
That will cap off a big week for the city. On Tuesday, Leighton swore in a new firefighter, Travis Temarantz, who is one of 12 new hires in that department, made possible through a $1.2 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
During his 2014 budget proposal in October, Leighton promised to add at least 10 officers to the force at a cost of approximately $100,000 each. The money, part of the overall $42.7 million annual budget, would come from the city’s general fund.
Liza Prokop, city spokeswoman, said there are 70 firefighters, eight paramedics and 83 police officers in the city.
Prokop said in 2014, Leighton hired 10 new police officers through the general fund and in April, thanks to the FEMA grant, he was able to hire 11 firefighters in April. Prokop said staffing levels were fairly consistent over the past five years for both departments until the 2014 increases. The fire department did experience a decrease in 2012 due to layoffs and retirement incentives.
A report released in May showed violent crime in the region is below the national average and on par with other mid-size metro areas in the state.
The report looked at data up to 2012, however, and did not include the 24 homicide victims in Luzerne County last year. Of that total, there were 13 victims in Wilkes-Barre alone.