Salisbury Press

Monday, November 11, 2019

STM requests officer

Thursday, February 4, 2016 by Paul Willistein in Local News

Salisbury Township Police Department Chief of Police Allen W. Stiles is willing to ask for an off-duty township officer to supervise traffic flow Sundays at St. Thomas More Church, but not for free.

The township board of commissioners reviewed a letter from St. Thomas More officials requesting traffic control at Flexer and Lindberg Avenues during a two-hour period, 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Sundays, at the western Salisbury church.

The request stems from a township police officer requesting a person who was not a department officer to refrain from directing traffic last year at Flexer and Lindberg.

According to a letter to commissioners signed by the Rev. Monsignor John P. Murphy, St. Thomas More pastor, and Kenneth Lupole, St. Thomas More safety committee chair, “There are potentially 500-plus vehicles entering and exiting the facilities at 1040 Flexer Ave. for worship and other activities. We remain concerned about pedestrian safety and traffic congestion.

“The parishioners of St. Thomas More Church are concerned about the traffic congestion on Sundays. We had requested the assistance of the Salisbury Township Police Department, but were told that lack of personnel made this unfeasible.

“We then temporarily hired members of the Lehigh Law Enforcement Officers Association to direct traffic at the Lindbergh and Flexer Avenues intersection.

“We would like to resume having an officer from Lehigh Law Enforcement Officers Association on Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.,” stated the Nov. 23, 2015, letter, a copy of which was provided the media by township officials at the Jan. 28 township workshop when the St. Thomas More request was discussed.

Cathy Bonaskiewich, Salisbury Township assistant manager-director of finance and acting township manager, said an off-duty township officer would cost about $50 an hour or about $100 for the two-hour requested time frame.

Stiles said he could post the request for an off-duty officer to handle the traffic request should St. Thomas More officials want it.

“This is in my area and this is an issue,” Commissioner Joanne Ackerman said of Sunday morning traffic congestion at St. Thomas More.

“When they say 500 cars on a Sunday, that’s not far-fetched,” Ackerman said, who made the recommendation an off-duty township officer be hired by St. Thomas More.

“A long time ago, they [St. Thomas More] asked us how much [a township officer would cost]. They didn’t call back,” Stiles said.

Atty. John W. Ashley said the matter “came about when a person was asked not to direct traffic” by a township police officer.

“An officer asked a man who was standing in the street at Flexer and Lindberg and directing traffic [to stop],” Stiles said, who told a reporter for Salisbury Press this interaction happened in August 2015.

“I have no problem when they are working on the parking lot,” Stiles said.

Ackerman said she experienced firsthand the person who was directing traffic. “I had a concern about a private individual waving me through [the intersection].”

Stiles noted Flexer and Lindberg is a four-way stop intersection. He said parishioners driving vehicles departing the Cedar Crest Bible Fellowship Church, 1151 S. Cedar Crest Boulevard, also in Salisbury, utilize Lincoln Avenue and then Cedar Crest Boulevard.

Stiles said off-duty officers are hired through the township and coordinated with the township.

Said Commissioner Debra Brinton, “It’s two hours on a Sunday. If they’re [St. Thomas More] that concerned about it, why wouldn’t they want to hire somebody?”

Ackerman said if township police are provided on a regular basis to direct traffic at St. Thomas More, “then you’d have to do that at other churches.”

Commissioners instructed Bonaskiewich to draft a letter to be sent to St. Thomas More Church officials offering to them the option of hiring an off-duty township police officer to direct traffic.