CLYMER — A major makeover of the borough police department has been completed with the first change in leadership in more than 27 years.
Clymer Borough Council on Tuesday accepted a resignation notice from police Chief Joe Douglas, effective Sept. 20, and named Officer Louis Sacco the interim police chief “until 2020.”
Douglas, who was first elevated from patrolman to acting police chief in September 1992, had spent most of the year on medical leave following surgery unrelated to his job. Council members didn’t mention what reason Douglas gave for stepping down.
Sacco, who also had been on medical leave since January — when he was injured while on duty for Cherry Tree Borough Police Department — said he recently was medically cleared to return to work.
Council voted 5-0 on Sacco’s temporary appointment. The vague end date to the promotion hinges on the Nov. 5 general election, in which Sacco is challenging Indiana County Sheriff Robert Fyock’s run for re-election.
Sacco delivered the department’s statistical report for September and explained procedural changes he plans to put into effect.
First, he’s organizing the office and drafting revisions to the policy manual.
“It’s been a while since it was updated. It will be a long process,” Sacco said. “And we’re working on modernizing the records management of our department.”
The borough’s law enforcement software program, Informant, can be configured to deliver better parking-enforcement reports for council, he said.
Sacco said some of the procedures are modeled after those in place at the Homer City Borough police department, where he served from 1989 to January 2018.
The administrative changes follow what townspeople and council members alike have recognized as dramatic changes in on-the-street policing of the borough.
When Douglas and Sacco were idled, council hired newcomer Hunter Scherf to partner with veteran D.J. Clawson as part-time patrolmen during the summer and beefed up their working hours.
Monthly arrest and investigation numbers increased. Residents came to council to praise the department’s visibility.
“Indiana Borough Police Department requested our department for assistance with the IUP homecoming event. I think that might be the first time we had that happen,” Sacco said. “The way it works in law enforcement … if we ever have any events here when we need extra officers, I can write a letter to Indiana Borough PD to ask for their assistance.”
Sacco said Clymer PD has worked on the Indiana County DUI Task Force and Drug Task Force, and will work to meet technical requirements for offices to use the national crime database, NCIC/CLEAN.
“There are some new rules and regulations and we have to be in compliance,” he said.
Council members called the monthly activity report “thorough,” and cited what they called unprecedented amounts of funds paid to the borough as a share of fines paid in the district court.
“It’s pretty weird. On the scanner now, I hear our people are out there,” Councilman John Hughmanic said.
“When I read the paper, I’m thinking this is a misprint. They have Clymer’s report in there,” Council President Louis Tate said.
Fire Chief John Gromley complimented the police for assisting at the scenes of traffic accidents.
“It’s nice to have officers that we can depend on,” Gromley said. “It’s been so nice, to have them doing their jobs.”
“We greatly appreciate everything that you guys have done,” Councilwoman Brietta Mighells, chairwoman of the police committee, said as the formal votes on Douglas and Sacco came before council.
Mighells, Tate, Stephanie Brilhart, John Hughmanic and Jeff Gromley approved the police personnel changes and all other items of business.
Council members Joe Krolick and John Buterbaugh were absent.
In other business, Clymer council:
• Adopted a resolution that formally names Rob Barto as manager, treasurer and assistant secretary of the borough, and appoints Sonya Schrenkel as the secretary and assistant treasurer, effective Oct. 15.
It was in January 2018 when Barto, the former full-time borough manager, transitioned toward retirement by trading job titles and duties with then-assistant manager George Oaks.
In recent months, Barto ramped up his work in the borough office after Oaks accepted additional employment that curtailed his hours for Clymer.
• Heard reports from John Gromley, who pulls double duty in the town as the borough public works director and chief of the volunteer fire company.
The fire company, Gromley said, has been conducting fire prevention assemblies in Penns Manor and Indiana Wesleyan schools; will hold a gun bash Saturday, Nov. 30; and will host a “trunk-or-treat” gathering to mark Halloween.
While a traditional Halloween parade is set for 1:30 p.m. and door-to-door trick-or-treating will be allowed from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, Gromley said, area residents are invited to park at the fire station that afternoon and distribute treats to costumed youngsters from their cars in a controlled and safe environment.
Clymer’s Light-Up Night is set for Friday, Nov. 29.
He reported that the borough crews have finished drainage improvement work on Rodney Street. Contractors will meet with borough officials Thursday to chart out the start of the $2 million water system upgrade project beginning Monday, Gromley said.
• Learned from Schrenkel that crews will pick up leaves from curbside on Mondays beginning Oct. 14.