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Highspire created similar position to what Middletown wants to do with public safety job

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 6/24/20

Former Middletown Borough Council member Rachelle Reid said the borough would be “breaking the law” if it hires a public safety director.

Middletown’s police officers’ …

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Highspire created similar position to what Middletown wants to do with public safety job

Posted

Former Middletown Borough Council member Rachelle Reid said the borough would be “breaking the law” if it hires a public safety director.

Middletown’s police officers’ union contends that boroughs in Pennsylvania are not allowed to have a public safety director under borough code.

Council President Angela Lloyd in reading a prepared statement expressing her opposition to the position on June 4 said she knew of no boroughs that have a public safety director.

But there is at least one example in Pennsylvania, and Lloyd, Reid and Middletown Borough Police Officers Association members don’t have to look far to find it.

Highspire has had a public safety director since Aug. 21, 2018, when Mark Stonbraker was appointed to the position by Highspire Borough Council resolution.

Stonbraker serves in the dual role of Highspire borough police chief, whereas Middletown borough council seeks to replace its current police chief position with that of a public safety director.

Stonbraker is also borough manager. As public safety director, he said he is the administrative head of both the borough police and fire departments.

Stonbraker in a June 11 email to the Press & Journal said: “There is nothing in the Borough Code that I have found which precludes me from being the ‘Public Safety Director.’ To my knowledge there are no sections which prohibit either A) a Borough from simply having a public safety director or B) having a chief of police perform multiple roles, including Borough Manager (and, presumably, public safety director.) In fact, Section 1143 of the Borough Code explicitly permits the chief of police to hold the Borough Manager position.”

Stonbraker said he knew of at least one other borough in Pennsylvania with a public safety director, Penn borough in Westmoreland County. Penn borough did not respond to requests for comment from the Press & Journal placed by phone and through the borough’s Facebook page.

In the case of Stonbraker and Highspire borough, Stonbraker was a Highspire police officer for more than 25 years and retired from the department as a sergeant in February 2018.

Stonbraker said he is still a sworn law enforcement officer and is permitted to carry a firearm, with which he qualifies. In his current role Stonbraker said he does not do any work for the Highspire Police Department regarding investigations, traffic enforcement, or other routine police duties.