Field narrowed for Wilkes-Barre police chief, follow-up interviews set

By Jerry Lynott - [email protected]
Wampole -
The Wilkes-Barre City Police Department. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader file

WILKES-BARRE — Candidates for city police chief will be interviewed a second time Wednesday as the search continues to replace retiring Chief Marcella Lendacky.

The follow-up interviews are for those who made the initial cut, said Wilkes-Barre city Administrator Ted Wampole.

“Some have been ruled out because they don’t meet qualifications,” Wampole said Tuesday. He declined to say how many candidates remained in contention for the job.

Wampole, a member of the committee that’s been interviewing candidates, said he was confident the panel would make recommendations to Mayor Tony George before Lendacky’s scheduled June 3 retirement.

“The plan is, obviously, to have the discussion with the mayor and he will make his choice,” Wampole said.

The committee — which also includes city Attorney Tim Henry, city councilman and former police chief Bill Barrett and retired Wilkes-Barre City Police Department Capt. Tom Merlie — was tasked with screening a field of candidates that includes aspirants from within the department and as far away as New Mexico.

Names not released

A total of 13 men applied, but one withdrew to pursue an opportunity close to home, Wampole said.

None of the names will be released to protect the identities of candidates not chosen for the post who will return to their jobs, Wampole said.

If the job posting had stated the candidates’ names would be made public, interest in the opening likely would have been limited, Wampole added.

Lendacky gave her retirement notice in April as copies of a report critical of her management circulated among council members who had requested an independent review of a department increasingly at odds with its chief.

The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association concluded Lendacky and Commander Ron Foy lacked the professional qualifications for their senior-level posts.

The Harrisburg-based association’s report listed 30 recommendations to resolve departmental discord, but it did not call for Lendacky or Foy to step down.

‘Impressed’

The city incorporated some of the recommendations in drafting qualifications for the chief’s job, requiring that candidates hold a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration or a related field or be a graduate of an advanced law enforcement training course such as the FBI National Academy. Neither Lendacky nor Foy had those qualifications.

Wampole said the candidates are aware of what’s happening within the department and city.

“I’m impressed by the group that we have interviewed. They have done their research,” Wampole said.

The candidates also are aware the chief is appointed by the mayor and does not have a signed contract, Wampole said. The mayor has roughly a year-and-a-half left on his four-year term.

Wampole said he’s been asked by residents about the search for a new chief and has been transparent in providing details, just as he did with city council at its work session May 8, the deadline for job applications.

“I’ve been out at residents’ associations and crime watch groups where the question has come up and given detailed information on where we are,” Wampole said.

Wampole
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Ted-Wampole-5.jpgWampole

The Wilkes-Barre City Police Department. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL040518POLICE1-1.jpgThe Wilkes-Barre City Police Department. Aimee Dilger | Times LeaderAimee Dilger | Times Leader file

By Jerry Lynott

[email protected]

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.