New Wilkes-Barre police chief should be from outside the area, residents tell council

By Jerry Lynott - [email protected]
Lendacky -

WILKES-BARRE — Within two hours of the city posting a job opening for police chief, residents at a council meeting Thursday said the new hire should come from out of town.

Chief Marcella Lendacky plans to retire June 3 after just two years in a post that an independent review said she was unqualified to hold.

“I really think that we should maybe look outside the area,” said John Suchoski, echoing the earlier statement of Angel Jirau.

Suchoski, who frequently speaks at council meetings, asked for specifics about the search to replace Lendacky.

“I’d like to know is there going to be a wide open process … ?” he asked.

City Administrator Ted Wampole explained the job was posted internally and on the city’s website, adding it will be advertised in the Times Leader and another city paper and with the Pennsylvania Municipal League.

There’s been some interest in the job that now pays $95,481-a-year plus benefits even before it was advertised.

“We finally have a detailed list that incorporates the 30, a lot of the 30 recommendations in there, the qualifications that they listed in the assessment report for the opening of a police chief,” Wampole said.

Indeed, the job opening’s duties and qualifications do “appear to mimic” the recommendations from the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association report, councilman Bill Barrett agreed.

Barrett, a former city police chief himself, described the job announcement as “quite progressive.”

Candidates for the appointed post should have experience in community policing, policy development and leadership — all listed in the report. More importantly, the candidate should 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.

The report, done at the request of the city to ease the tensions between the police administration and the rank-and-file officers, noted Lendacky and Commander Ron Foy, both appointed by Mayor Tony George, had neither college degrees nor any advanced law enforcement training and were unqualified to hold senior level management posts. It did not call for them to step down, however.

Foy remains on the job, drawing his $82,514-a-year salary plus benefits.

But resident Bob Kadluboski called for the removal of Foy and Lendacky, something councilwoman Beth Gilbert stated when the report was given to council April 4. Gilbert was unable to get support for a resolution for their resignations and pulled it from the agenda earlier this week.

“For this administration to let this keep going on and on is ridiculous,” Kadluboski said Thursday.

Lendacky did get a thank you for her nearly 30 years of service with the force from Jirau and Linda Joseph, president of the Rolling Mill Hill Residents’ Association.

“We wish her the very best in her retirement and we look forward and hope for as positive a relationship with the newly appointed chief and the police department,” Joseph said.

Applications for the chief’s job will be accepted through May 8.

In other business, council approved:

• The transfer of a liquor license to the Gray Kitten LLC, 80-82 Wilkes-Barre Township Blvd., from Hanover Township.

• The use of a city right-of-way by the Istanbul Grill LLC, 40 S. Main St., for outdoor seating on the sidewalk.

• The award of a contract to supply blue garbage bags to the lowest responsible bidder.

• A $609,000 grant from the state Department of Health to provide HIV/AIDS prevention and education programs.

• The signing of documents by a city official to extend the deadline until the end of the year to spend unused funds from an Emergency Solutions Grant.

• A permit to the Wyoming Valley Challenger Baseball Little League to use the field at the city park known as the “Bog” on Dewey Lane.

• The sale of property at 37-39 Division St. for $5,000 to Kurt and Ellen Sauer.

WB accepting applications for top police job

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.