MACUNGIE BOROUGH COUNCIL Mayor raises money to purchase GPS units for police vehicles
Macungie Mayor Rick Hoffman obtained approval Monday night Jan. 7 to purchase GPS units for the borough's three police department vehicles. This is after losing borough council's vote the first time he requested GPS units because there was not enough money. Hoffman said he now has the funds to cover the units completely for one year because of an end-of-year deal thrown in by Advanced Tracking, the company responsible for producing these tracking units.
The total cost of the devices is $1,408; Hoffman received $1,000 from WalMart and the remainder from donations. Hoffman said as soon as the borough's solicitor reviews the contract to ensure it is in fact only that amount for exactly the space of a year with no hidden fees, he can get the project rolling.
The tracking device is a small, unobtrusive piece of equipment the mayor said the officers won't even notice.
Some discussion arose around the mayor's purpose in pursuing the devices.
According to Hoffman, the GPS tracks and monitors the movements of each vehicle, allowing the mayor and the chief of police comprehensive knowledge of each car's whereabouts. The system updates every 10 seconds and Hoffman can set a perimeter that sets off a notification when a car leaves Macungie.
The mayor said he had received verbal complaints from residents regarding police officers, mentioning instances of cars sitting for hours at a time in one location or speeding, for example. The tracking system would allow the mayor to retrieve concrete information on each car's position and movements.
When asked the chief's opinion on the GPS, Hoffman said, "He knows it's coming. I wanted to do it before. He knows it's on the table. He's not in favor of it, let's put it that way."
Hoffman will meet with the police chief and council Vice President Greg Hutchison to review the GPS.
Only the chief and the mayor will have passwords to access the data provided by the tracking units. The mayor said this was a way of ensuring he could not change anything without the chief's knowledge, because each set of information must "jive" with the other.
With questioning from council, the mayor confirmed he could not change data uploaded to the system's servers (which are held by Advanced Tracking), only download data and review. "It's imperative that two people have access to that information," Hoffman assured council.
"Companies have them," pointed out the mayor. "It's a managerial tool to let you know where your people are at all times."
Reception by the public was not exactly enthusiastic. Macungie resident Marvin Moyer spoke up calling the mayor a liar and "stupid" after the mayor had said it was "stupid to argue with you."
Borough Manager Chris Boehm cautioned residents and council members that American Water Resources had contacted her about their intention to send a letter to all properties in the borough regarding their water lines.
AWR indicated it was to inform residents of their responsibilities as property owners and insisted on sending the letter despite her protestations. Boehm assured everyone no action was necessary and that if residents receive a letter they should ignore it or contact Borough Hall. Only notices on Borough of Macungie letterhead should be acknowledged and no repair work is currently necessary unless Macungie contacts the property owner.
Boehm also pointed out some corrections to the printed copy of the 2013 budget passed just a few weeks ago.
The issue lay in some numbers that were not revised to reflect the most recent changes and approvals by council and affected some wage increases.
Council approved the budget as set with the correct numbers.