WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)- “Tensions are running high and something’s got to give:” those are the words used by some police officers to describe the mood within the Wilkes-Barre Police Department.
Eyewitness news has been reporting on these tensions since early 2016.
The police chief and some members of the police union have been engaged in a war of words for more than a year now.
The union claims the chief is mismanaging the department, the chief insists some officers simply do not want to work.
Caught in the middle of all this are the residents of Wilkes-Barre, many of them say they are concerned that this battle is placing them in jeopardy. Now city council is stepping into the fray.
“This has been a concern for the longest time,” says Angel Jirau of Wilkes-Barre. “Many of us want this resolved.”
This is what Eyewitness News was told over and over again Wednesday from Wilkes-Barre residents, referring to the ongoing tensions between Police Chief Marcella Lendacky and some members of the police union.
“It’s creating work stoppage, the accusations,” says Lendacky.
The chief insists that some officers are not carrying their own weight and the dissatisfaction is about holding them accountable.
“I expect them to come to work and do their job they are paid to do,” says Lendacky.
“Obviously there is tension between management and workforce,” says Officer Dan Duffy, vice president of the Wilkes-Barre Police Union.
Duffy insists those tensions are not stopping police officers from doing their jobs.
“As far as the morale side of it goes, we are here to do a job that which we are going to do,” says Duffy. “Of course our attitude and our feelings are right now aren’t the best. We’re certainly not going to let the public suffer as a result of that.”
The city council is soon expected to hire an outside group to evaluate the police department.
“Let the chops fall where they may,” says Wilkes-Barre City Councilman Tony Brooks. “There will be, I’m sure, good things that come from that, and showing how you can do things better.”
Lendecky says she welcomes the evaluation and insists that report will show she is running the department properly.
The city council is expected to hire that third party evaluator Thursday night. Both the police chief and police union have agreed to abide by the findings of the report.