Gilberton council votes to abolish police department
MAHANOY PLANE - Gilberton Borough Council officially abolished its police department at Thursday's meeting.
The formal adoption of ordinance 2014-1 was on a 6-0 vote, which was approval by the full council.
Borough solicitor Karen Domalakes presented the ordinance to the council, explaining the new ordinance repeals a section of an ordinance that established the police department in 1981.
"The original ordinance established not only your police department, but also your fire chief," Domalakes said. "That is why you're only repealing one part of it."
Ordinance 2014-1 reads, "Whereas the council of the Borough of Gilberton has agreed that it can no longer maintain a police force with the borough. Now therefore be it hereby ordained that the police department established by Chapter 5 Article 4 of Ordinance No. 81-5 is hereby disbanded, and that section of the ordinance repealed."
The borough has been without a police force since July 31, when police Chief Mark Kessler was suspended, being accused for allegedly using borough automatic weapons on his own time in YouTube videos without permission from the borough council or Mayor Mary Lou Hannon. Kessler contested the charge.
At the time of his suspension, Kessler was the only police officer. The Pennsylvania State Police has provided police enforcement since that time.
The borough and Kessler reached a negotiated settlement signed Feb. 20 stating Kessler is "separated from his employment and voluntarily retired."
A week later, the borough council approved the advertisement of an ordinance to abolish the police department at its Feb. 27 meeting.
In a related matter, the borough council approved the sale of the police car to Mahanoy Township for $5,000.
"We had several other people who were looking at it, but one couldn't afford it," Hannon said.
"The Mahanoy Township supervisors are willing to pay the $5,000 as long as the laptop goes with the car," Malloy said. "They will put $2,000 down, and pay $1,000 every month for three months.
Malloy said the first payment will be Tuesday, and then the first day of the month on subsequent months.
Domalakes asked about preserving the data on the laptop for borough files. Hannon said the plan is to get a copy of the data before the computer is given to the township.
After the vote, Hannon said there are other police items that should be sold. She said there are two police radios and two jackets, and suggested that they should be bundled together for sale, possibly for $500. Hannon said the borough also has two stun guns, though one does not operate. She said they could be added to the bundle. The borough also has a bulletproof vest, though it will expire in one year, which she says the vest has no value. Manufacturers guarantee the Kevlar vests for five years.
The council gave permission to Hannon to sell the police items "at her discretion."