First Posted: 1/20/2013
The Pittston City Council, during its regular meeting on Jan. 15, took steps to formalize a few changes that had essentially already taken place.
City Police Sergeant Neil Murphy will now carry the title of sergeant/detective at a salary of $50,646 while Patrolman William Curry will be promoted to sergeant at a salary of $50,515.
Council member Mike Lombardo explained that Murphy had already been carrying out the duties of a detective and that Tuesday's promotion was merely to recognize his efforts and make his title official.
By his own estimate, Murphy has been performing detective duties for roughly two years. The 43-year-old, life-long Pittston resident has been a Pittston police officer for 15 years. He works extensively in an investigative capacity; helping to prevent and tackle major crimes such as murder and sexual assault.
Murphy described how he and his fellow officers have begun to be more pro-active with crime prevention, particularly in the area of combatting drug dealing through the use of surveillance and cooperation with concerned community members.
He also spoke highly of Pittston's Police Chief Robert Powers. This is truly because of him, Murphy said. In prior years, investigative work was left to the chief, but Murphy described how Powers sought to utilize the skills of additional officers to more effectively serve the city.
Like Murphy, Officer William Curry was born and raised in Pittston. He has been with the force for 12 years and, over the course of his career, he has noticed an uptick in drug-dealing within the city.
He shared his opinion that Pittston, being between the larger metropolitan areas of Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, is constantly at risk of receiving spillover crime and pointed to the importance of keeping that threat at bay.
With Curry's promotion, the city will now look to hire a new police officer. City Administrator Joe Moskowitz anticipates the council will do so in the very near future as civil service testing of candidates is already underway.
The city of Pittston is currently served by six full-time and 10 part-time officers.
In other police news, Council officially adopted its new canine policy. In November, the Police Department raised $40,000 in community donations to cover the purchase and training of a dog, as well as some of the equipment that will be used to retrofit a police canine vehicle.
Lombardo hopes the dog, named Blitz, will be active on the force, living full time with officer Joseph Galeski, by March of this year.
In other matters, Council held the first reading of an ordinance to adopt the Pittston City Home Rule Charter. Moskovitz explained the reading was done only to officially have the Home Rule Charter Ordinance on record.
The Home Rule Charter has been in effect since Jan. 2. State law requires an ordinance reflecting the adoption of the charter be read at a council meeting. Although this took place, the city's mayor and Council members were unable to vote on the ordinance as the charter was approved by Pittston voters last November.
Moskovitz compared the role that Home Rule is now playing in Pittston to that of Murphy's detective duties as some of the major changes have already been in practice.
To illustrate his point, he alluded to the increased responsibilities of the mayor, the appointment of a city manager, the abolishment of the city clerk and the absorption of city clerk duties into the administrative tasks carried out by the manager.
The next regular Pittston City Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19.