HONESDALE—At their recent meeting held March 12, the Honesdale Borough Council accepted changes to Honesdale Police Department's (HPD) standard operating procedure (SOP), contingent upon review by Borough Solicitor Rich Henry.
The update regards more specific language governing police interactions with a suspect or citizen who is carrying a firearm, particularly concerning use of force continuum and use of deadly force.
HPD Chief Rick Southerton presented a special order for council's review and approval, noting, “This goes along with the Chief's Association, but I think it needs to be addressed and approved by council since our old SOP was addressed by council.”
Explaining the need for the policy, Southerton stated at the meeting: “We've had, in the last couple months, encountered more people with firearms. And with the way things are going across the country, this special order addresses what to do with the use of force type situations.
“... Right now there is no policy in place, and I think you're in a bad situation if something happens.
“There's nothing there that tells these guys when they can use certain weapons, force continuum as it goes up, what to do if there is a shooting, who's gonna investigate it, what happens to that officer.
“All those things you need to have in place before something happens.”
Council voted unanimously to adopt the special order on a temporary basis, pending review from Solicitor Henry.
In a separate matter concerning the police department, Council voted to hire new part-time patrolman Matthew Cianfichi at a rate of $15.50 per hour
Southerton stated Cianfichi had previously worked for the department and departed in good standing when he left the area a few years ago.
Council also hired a new Department of Public Works (DPW) full-time laborer Chad Scholl at a starting rate of $12.50 per hour with expected $0.50 increase upon Scholl's acquisition of his commercial drivers license.
Honesdale Borough Council also adopted a resolution voicing its support of the establishment of an independent citizens commission to redraw voting district lines in lieu of the current legislature-created process.
Representatives from Fair Districts PA proposed the resolution at last month's council meeting, amidst the hullabaloo surrounding the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court decision to rule the 2011 congressional district map unconstitutional.
Fair Districts PA has made several presentations in the area, and proposed their same resolution to numerous local municipalities.
As part of his motion to adopt the resolution, Councilor Tim Lauffenburger stated the independent commission will “draw our future district lines in a fair, impartial, accountable and transparent process.”
The motion was seconded by Councilor Travis Rivera.
With all council members present, Honesdale Borough Council voted to accept the resolution in a vote of five yes to two no.
Councilors Michael Augello and Jim Brennan voted against.
Noting his personal thoughts on the matter, Augello stated “I personally, I'm not speaking as chairman, I'm speaking as myself, do not feel that the council should be involved.”
He stated the matter is decided at a state and federal level, and not something local municipalities have much sway over.
Augello also raised concerns with how the proposed legislation chooses citizens to sit on the commission, questioning whether it would be any different than the current systems in place.