The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


September 27, 2012

Mayor says Bartello's police stats are off

SUNBURY — Mayor David Persing wants to assure city residents that police coverage is top notch after Councilman Joe Bartello said that only 70 percent of calls are being answered by officers.

After reviewing a police report, Bartello said he wanted the city to hire three additional officers in an effort to help the department answer the nearly 1,000 calls received each month.

“Another accusation from Councilman Bartello without having the facts,” Persing said. “The police report that is given to City Council documents ‘incidents’ through the county dispatch center, and there are a lot of multiple calls from citizens on the same issue.”

Persing said he wants residents to know that not all calls require a police presence.

“For example, a person could call in three times on their neighbor’s dog barking. This would be three ‘incidents,’ but the officer did not get there fast enough because of a higher prioritized situation,” he said.

“We also are always notified on EMS and fire calls that we do not respond to. Our police supervisors prioritize all calls during their shifts. Shift sizes are done by scheduling and officers’ time away from work.”

Safety comes first, the mayor said.

“I believe people understand that we will never be able to pay for all the officers we would like to have, but we do have excellent coverage, maybe not just fast enough for some people,” Persing said. “Internally, we specify the work product of all our officers both collectively and individually, including police response to calls and arrests. We do not specify county incident reports, but they are on the Internet.”

Bartello mentioned the issue after reading a copy of the proposed police contract, which is going to be discussed by the City Council and the Sunbury Police Association on Oct. 8.

According to the proposal, police officers could receive more vacation time and more sick time, Bartello said.

“That’s not going to help the city,” he said, “I don’t begrudge them anything, but we have to balance it for good service to the residents.”

Total calls to city police from January until August were 6,804, and 4,845 were answered, according to monthly police reports.

In April, police handled 92 percent of 800 calls.

Out of the total calls answered, 422 people were arrested and 577 cases still are under investigation.

No major violent crimes have been reported in the city since January.


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