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Macungie Council Votes to Install GPS in Police Cars

The reopening of the issue is a surprise at Monday's council meeting.

Though it was not on the meeting agenda, Macungie Council on Monday voted to equip borough police cars with private GPS units. Mayor Rick Hoffman introduced the topic during the "Mayor's Report" segment of the meeting.

The vote, with a motion initiated and seconded by Council members Linn Walker and Gregory Hutchison, respectively, was split. Walker, Hutchison, Christopher Becker and Council President Jean Nagle voted in favor. Council member Debra Cope voted against. Councilmen Joseph Sikorski and David Boyko were absent.

Council voted against installing the units in April. The reason then was that it was going to cost thousands of dollars to install and use the units for the length of the proposed two-year contract.

This time, however, the contract is for one year, and Hoffman said he has raised the entire amount necessary -- $1,408 -- through donations. Walmart donated $1,000 and the rest came from individuals.

The units are to be monitored by two people: Hoffman and Macungie Police Chief Edward Harry. With the use of a password supposedly known to only the two, the system can be monitored from any computer or smart phone, Hoffman said.

Hoffman's reopening of the issue came as a surprise since it had already been defeated once, and though Cope said she wanted the motion withdrawn so she could refer to her notes on the topic before voting on it, the motion stood.

Hoffman repeated his claim that a GPS system he can monitor is necessary because of "all the complaints" he has received about Macungie police speeding at times and at other times parking for hours on end.

Cope said that there has never been a documented complaint about any Macungie police officer, to which Hoffman responded that residents don't document complaints because they fear retaliation from the police.

Borough resident Marvin Moyer protested the move during public comment. However, the mayor reminded him of last week's court decision before answering him by saying, "I am the chief," and "I am in charge," at least twice during Moyer's statement.

Chief Harry said Monday night in a telephone interview that he has no problem with any kind of GPS system being installed in police cars. Indeed, Macungie police cars already have at least one kind which has been installed in all Lehigh County police cars by the county.

But, Harry said, he cannot comment on these units because he knows nothing about them or the monitoring process.

"The problem with any GPS is security," Harry said. Unless the monitoring is secure -- limiting where it takes place and who has access -- it compromises not only the safety of police officers but also the safety of residents of Macungie, he said.

If a person with ulterior motives knows where a police officer is, he or she also knows where the officer is not, Harry said.

Responsible Citizen January 12, 2013 at 04:59 AM
This is far too much empty rhetoric Mr. Becker!! With all due respect....what would have been "fair" was to wait until ALL council members were present AND to allow Councilwoman Cope to further research before casting her vote. AND...you voted against the GPS installation in April....hmmmm!!! Can you also provide actual documented "complaints" about our MPD?? YES....you WILL continue to "take alot of heat" about this lame vote. The majority of Macungie residents are not FOOLS!! We would also appreciate council allowing our fine MPD to do THEIR job to protect our borough and maintain our safety without ongoing obstruction!!!
ron January 12, 2013 at 05:58 AM
You say there were no finances involved. What about the 1,000 dollors from walmart. Was this grant money given to the borough for the police department or was it given to the mayor for his personal use. I dont believe walmart would give the money with strings attached and tell the borough how to spend it or how to run our police force and i dont believe they would give it to a private individual. So i believe it would be up to council to decide how to use the money for our police force. Mr Becker i thank you for serving our town.
ron January 12, 2013 at 06:03 AM
Oh. May i add i believe the money could have been spent on many more important things for the police department besides this redundant GPS system.
Honesty January 12, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Your comments Mr. Becker are simply not true. The Mayor's attorney isn't stupid. If the Mayor could have installed these without the approval of council he would have done that......don't you think? Council has a responsibility to protect our borough employees which includes our police department. You know darn well there is an alterior motive and you didn't blink an eye. I think you really should watch what you say. It sounds to me you were more worried about the money than the affect on the police department and the citizens of our community.
get real January 14, 2013 at 12:26 AM
Mr. Becker, i believe it is you who should read the Borough Code since it appears that you support our ignorant Mayor who feels he has sole absolute power over our Police department. We have a system of divided powers and checks and balances. If the Mayor had absolute power, he would not have needed the council's AUTHORITY to put the GPS units in the Borough vehicles. You stated that council should not interfere with the office of the Mayor, and that we need to respect the office of the Mayor. As for council not interfering, what you are saying is that council should give the Mayor what ever he requests.This idea of yours is ABSURD! Council members should exhibit and exercise their own good judgment, knowledge, common sense, and leadership. They should not relinquish their own duties and powers.In reference to your respect statement, respect needs to be earned. This Mayor has not earned the respect of most citizens and therefore has none.You also are quickly losing the respect we held for you.

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