EAST BRADY – East Brady officials had barely finished going over the December police report with New Bethlehem Police Dept. Chief Robert Malnofsky when two local women arrived at the Jan. 2 meeting to complain that increased police patrols were bad for business.
At their first meeting of the new year, East Brady Borough Council members started off with he chief’s report on December, which included 20 traffic stops in the borough, four citations issues, three ordinance matters, six written warnings and a total of 103.5 hours of police time for the month in East Brady.
Malnofsky, who took the reigns of the local police department in November, said the department is now up to three full-time officers and five part-time officers, with plans to begin the process for bringing a K-9 unit to the department. He also told the council about his plans to place a substation in Rimersburg so that one officer can be stationed in the Rimersburg-East Brady area during all manned shifts.
Council president Barb Mortimer said she was pleased with how the meet-and-greet with the police officer was received in the community in December, and suggested holding another outreach event with the new chief in early 2019.
Farther into the meeting, Kathy Montgomery and Danielle Brink came in to address what they have seen as too much police presence in the town.
Montgomery said that business owners want to know why there seems to be an increase of police enforcement in East Brady, claiming that they counted 16 cars being pulled over in one day.
Mortimer told the women that the borough had just increased its police hours from 20 hours to 30 per week at the start of the new year.
“It’s hurting businesses,” Montgomery said. “Nobody wants to come into town anymore.”
The women said the bars in town have felt the impact, along with Uni-Mart which they claimed was considering cutting back its night hours on certain weekdays. They also claimed people had been pulled over by police without just cause, and that police cars were spotted driving through the parking lot of the St. Cloud bar.
Malnofsky refuted the claims of 16 cars being pulled over in one day, noting that there were a total of 20 traffic stops in East Brady in the entire month of December.
“The officer needs probable cause to pull a vehicle over,” the chief said, noting that there is a lengthy paper trail documenting every traffic stop and incident. “Show me the facts and I’ll discipline the officer.”
Brink claimed that a police car followed her home from work at the All-Stars Bar one night, and the officer appeared to wait until she went inside.
Councilman Tom Hillwig said the complaints had struck a nerve with him, telling the two women that people in the community have been asking for more of a police presence.
“For years people in this town complained because we didn’t have enough police hours,” he said, accusing the women of exaggerating their “absolute baloney” claims.
Councilman Joe Hillwig agreed, saying that if businesses are looking to scale back their hours, it’s not because of the police, but because business is slow during winter months. He also said that police could justifiably stop nearly every car that comes into East Brady on Route 68, as few obey the speed limits coming into town from either across the bridge or down the hill from the north.
Mortimer noted that residents have been asking for more police.
“It’s like walking a tightrope,” she said.
Brink criticized the police for allegedly parking nearby the bars, and pulling over patrons as they leave.
While he said he didn’t condone that tactic, Joe Hillwig noted that “it’s not legal to drink and drive.”
“You can’t drink a beer and get in a car,” he said.
The council told the two women that if they have problems with the police patrols, they should document their findings and report them to the police chief.
In related business, the council adopted a new nuisance ordinance to start the year. Officials said the ordinance combined several related ordinances into one document, and raises the fines involved for violators.
• East Brady will celebrate its 150th anniversary as an incorporated borough in 2019. Council members discussed selling anniversary items to benefit the community center, and suggested incorporating the anniversary into this summer’s Riverfest celebration.
• Officials noted that Route 68 will be paved throughout East Brady and into Brady Township, possibly beginning in March.
• Approval was given for the borough to contract for street sweeping services for this spring.