City Descends into Chaos as Police Dept. Implodes
Right now Sunbury is in the midst of an unprecedented crime wave – gang activities, burglaries, home invasions, shootings, serious drug problems – as our local politicians continue to squabble behind the scenes over the appointment of a new police chief – an appointment only made necessary by their stupidity and propensity to put politics and self interest before citizen safety.
The criminals are well aware of this. They are flocking into our town to take advantage of the situation. Everyone should take extra precautions – secure their vehicles, windows and doors at all times, and stay alert for any suspicious activity.
The Daily Item is also aware of this situation, but refuses to alert our citizens to the dangers they face. Dark forces, we are told, have hamstrung their ability to fully report the news. Little more than the propaganda wing of this hapless city administration, they have been shown up once again as part of the problem in Sunbury rather than being part of its solution.
Our depleted and rudderless police department is facing a serious loss of morale, with disunity in the ranks and a major manpower shortage too. It is no coincidence that this descent into chaos has followed quickly on the heels of the Mayor’s questionable decision to demote Steve Mazzeo from his post because of “personnel issues”, and before he had even thought about selecting his replacement.
Police department problems were not even deemed worthy of mention at the most recent City Meeting on Monday 14th July. We did, however, hear from two individuals at that meeting. Sunbury resident Terence Bossert complained of a 2013 unprovoked assault by two city police officers – an incident for which charges against him were subsequently dropped.
The Mayor said he could not believe this had happened and dismissed the complaint without further consideration. Interesting that he did not deny it. Perhaps he knows more than he is letting on. We hope that Mr. Brossert follows the Mayor’s advice and appoints a good attorney to handle his case.
Former resident Drake Saxton was scathing in his criticism, citing the misplacement of cameras as a primary reason why there was no visual evidence concerning the Hare shooting incident; that is, if the camera system was actually functional and accessible by the police department.
He cited the failure of the administration to adequately support police operations and to provide finance for the appointment of detectives and additional officers to help combat the many problems faced by the City. Criminals are well aware of the on-going problems, which sends to them a clear signal that Sunbury is the place in which to come and commit crimes.
Bradley Hare became acting chief as a result of dirty politics in City Hall. Persing wanted to fulfill the threats made during his infamous victory speech on election night, and to wage war (“take out the garbage”) on those he termed the “anti-Sunbury people” – the people who had dared to stand up for our city against his tyranny during his 2013 campaign to be elected for a sixth term as Mayor.
He obviously preferred a personal hit squad to a professionally-run police department. In ditching the Chief we are sure he did not act alone – Councilmen Eister and Reichner have also been outspoken critics of Mazzeo.
It is not only Persing who is playing his violin while Sunbury burns – we now have an entire fiddle band in City Hall, playing in a cacophony of disharmony, as the members indulge in round after round of in-fighting over the final choice of a successor, each seeking to gain the maximum political advantage for himself before being prepared to agree to anyone.
This week Persing has put off the announcement yet again, and there is little sign of this divided, indecisive and dysfunctional administration having either the will or the ability to claw their way back out of the pit they have dug for themselves.
Misuse of Resources
The City is facing possible legal action over one botched search warrant, executed shortly after Mazzeo’s dismissal, where 3 police officers accompanied code officers on what amounted to a raid, but was in fact a routine rental inspection, but at an address different to the one specified.
The raid also resulted, we are told, in the filing of a grievance against its instigator and code office director Ric Reichner by the officers involved. By pure coincidence, the subject of the search had placed signs for Joe Bartello in his windows during last year’s election campaign.
We also have reports, in the midst of all of this, of police resources being deployed over last weekend to carry out a survey of abandoned cars in city streets and yards! No doubt Ric Reichner can justify to himself this misuse of scarce resources and expensive officer time – we certainly can’t!
Acting Acting Acting Chief?
There seems little doubt that acting chief Hare shot distant relative Erick Trometter in self defense. What is questionable is the manner in which Hare got himself into this situation in the first place. His eagerness to apprehend someone wanted in connection with a domestic disturbance, possibly heightened by extra pressures from his new responsibilities, may have clouded his judgment. Why else would a 14 year police veteran tackle a potentially dangerous individual without backup and outside of his area of jurisdiction?
Whatever the outcome of the inquiry currently being conducted by state police, there seems little doubt that Mr. Trometter will become the plaintiff in a huge lawsuit against the City. He has already launched a $1 million action against the County, alleging he was beaten by prison guards during a previous stay in Northumberland County Prison.
Following the placement of Hare on administrative leave, acting acting chief Christopher Blase was appointed. We now learn that he has had to stand down because of health problems, possibly related to the stress of trying to run this dysfunctional department. Who will become the acting acting acting chief, to hold the fort while Persing, Eister and Reichner continue to run around City Hall like headless chickens?
They are fast running out of options. Limited by the terms of last year’s renegotiated police contract, they have to appoint a temporary chief from within the supervisory ranks. Of the two remaining qualified officers one, Sergeant Jim Taylor, is on long-term sick leave, leaving Corporal Jamie Quinn as their only valid alternative.
The Obvious Solution
The obvious candidate for permanent appointment is currently working as a city patrolman – former chief Steve Mazzeo. However, it is not in Persing’s nature to eat humble pie and admit to making a mistake – all hell will freeze over before the occurrence of such an historic event. Doing the right thing, for him, has never been an option. Along with his Merry Men, he will continue to blindly lead Sunbury in the wrong direction – “moving forward” is not the way to go when you are facing the edge of a precipice.
Other than bringing in an outsider, we do not see any other immediate solution. Nobody else in the department has either the qualifications or leadership experience to take on the job, especially in the light of its current extreme difficulties.
The huge question on everyone’s lips is this: would the City be in this sorry state were it not for the Mayor’s impulsive and cavalier act of removing 6 year chief Steve Mazzeo from his post only two months ago?
Survival at Stake
Can our City survive another three and a half years of such bungling incompetence? This is a moot point. Whatever happens between now and 2018, Persing’s successor, whoever that may be, will have his or her work cut out, facing the Herculean task of rescuing our city from the devastation of misrule – to clean out the Augean Stables at 225 Market Street and rid the place of the stench of years of cronyism, nepotism and corruption, before putting our city on a road to recovery.
It will be Sunbury’s last chance to avoid the fate of Shamokin and follow them into the trap of Act 47 bankruptcy.