WILKES-BARRE — Members of the public who want to find out what’s in the taxpayer-funded report on the city’s police department will have to go to unofficial sources, Mayor Tony George said Monday.
George said the official position is to keep confidential the 103-page report produced by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, even though it’s been available online from the local newspapers for approximately a month.
City Attorney Tim Henry determined the report, which cost $26,212 in public funds, was not subject to release under the state’s Right to Know law, the mayor said.
Based on Henry’s decision, “I don’t see any reason to release anything,” George said.
The mayor acknowledged the public has had access to the report, but added it was “not through us.”
Henry did not return two calls left Friday and Monday at his City Hall office.
The report criticized the management methods and the disciplinary motives of police Chief Marcella Lendacky and Commander of Patrol Ron Foy, saying neither of them were qualified for the senior-level positions and blamed them for the rift between the police administration and rank-and-file officers.
The report did not call for the removal of either Lendacky from the job budgeted at $95,481 a year plus benefits or Foy from his position paying $82,514 a year plus benefits. However, it set in motion the city’s search for a replacement for Lendacky, who notified the mayor she will retire on June 3 after nearly 30 years on the force.
During interviews with the local media, the mayor faulted the report for focusing on Lendacky and Foy, both of whom he appointed, and overlooking the obstruction of the Wilkes-Barre Police Benevolent Association to the police administration’s attempts to bring order and discipline to the department.
Nonetheless, George said he would abide by the recommendations contained in the report to improve the operation of the department.
City officials and city council members received copies on April 4, the day after city Administrator Ted Wampole returned from the PCPA’s office in Harrisburg with the report.
Henry also began to review the report to determine whether an edited version could be released to the public under the Right to Know law. Shortly afterward the two local newspapers obtained unedited copies of the report and posted them online.
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.