LAFLIN — Monday night’s Borough Council meeting provided dozens of borough residents the opportunity to again respond to the possibility of the elimination of the borough’s police department.
Most who showed up Monday seemed to want to keep the borough police presence “as is.”
Borough Council has been exploring the disbanding the department at recent meetings.
Many residents shared stories reflecting quick response times by borough officers that saved lives. Some cited the borough’s low crime rate relative to other nearby municipalities such as Wilkes-Barre.
“As council members, you are also residents,” said Larry Brogna. “You live here and your children live here, I don’t understand how you could be willing to put them at risk.”
The issue came to the forefront when council tabled a motion to hire two part-time police officers. Several members said they felt uncomfortable considering the hiring of new officers, when the fate of the its police department was still pending.
Mayor Dorothy Shea Yazurlo said she felt her hands had been tied by council and she was unable to fulfill the mandate of her office in regard to the police department.
Yazurlo referred to a borough ordinance which reads, “The mayor shall have full charge and control of the chief of police and the police force.”
“I haven’t been able to do my job,” said Yazurlo, “or there would have been two new part-time officers hired tonight.”
She said she found relying on state police to fill the gap in police service was unacceptable in regard to response time and understanding of the needs of residents.
Councilman Thomas Parry said council members were still in the process of evaluating proposals from Jenkins Township and the city of Pittston offering police protection at a reduced cost.
“This council ran on the platform of fiscal responsibility,” said Parry, “and we intend to follow through with it. With less money available to us, we need to make some difficult decisions.”
In another matter, Tony Pirro, County Waste, addressed council saying he would “love to win the trash collection and recycling contract.” He said the single stream method used by the company would save the borough money and make it more likely residents would participate recycling.
The borough will again be trying to garner a Local Shared Grant for 2014 (gaming monies). The deadline for the grant request is Dec. 31.
The next meeting of Borough Council will be on Oct. 14 at 6 p.m.