Stowe Police hire, promotion put on hold by commissioners

-ON THE AGENDA-


By Elizabeth Perry


Plans to further expand the staff of the Stowe Township Police Department have been put on hold.


At the township’s July 12 meeting, commissioners tabled the promotion of Officer James Duss to Deputy Chief of Police and head of the Civil Service Commission, a part-time police position, and the purchase of software to enhance police investigations.


“We doubled our police force in the last six months due to the shooting and drugs,” said President Robin Parilla.


Commissioners Cheryl McDermott and David Rugh suggested tabling the appointments at the night’s previous meeting. McDermott said she’d heard nothing about the positions or candidates until they were expected to vote about them. Both commissioners wanted more time to gather information about Officer Duss and what his promotion would mean. A job description for the Deputy Chief of Police job had not been completed at the time, according to Secretary Dwight Boddorf.


“It was not advertised, no tests given, no amount of money given,” McDermott said in an interview after the meeting. She went on to say that in an important matter like hiring the assistant chief of police, “you’ve got to do it right.”


Upon request, a first draft of the job requirements was sent to Gazette 2.0 and the summary states:


“The Deputy Police Chief assists the Police Chief in planning, organizing, and directing the patrol, investigative, administrative, internal affairs, and support service activities of the department; and assumes responsibility for the Department in the Chief’s absence.”

Parilla said he’d had his eye on Duss for several years, and he was the only candidate being considered for the job. A salary of between $78,000 to $88,000 was being considered for the role, said Parilla.


Duss has been with the township starting as a part-time officer in 2014 and full-time in 2017, according to Boddorf. Police Chief Matt Preininger said Duss has been effective in his role as an officer and he had positive feelings about Duss’ selection.


The board pushed back approval of the request for an Accurint software purchase. The software would enable officers to do research on suspects in an expedited fashion. Powered by Lexus-Nexus and tailored for police, the software is an easily navigable search engine full of specific, relevant information collected by law enforcement agencies across the country. The software would be paid for by the asset forfeiture fund and costs. According to the software website, prices vary depending upon usage.


Also tabled, the hiring of part-time officer Regan Halstead. She is a recent graduate of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania academy at Robert Morris University who approached the Stowe police about joining the force. Halstead responded to a request from Chief Preininger. This would be her first police job.


“We are typically always trying to hire qualified part-time officers,” Preininger said via email after the meeting.


Currently Stowe has 11 full-time police officers and two part-time officers with a third part-time position approved just this week according to Buddorf.


“The Township added two full-time and two part-time officers in 2021 and two full-time officers in 2019,” Buddorf said via email.


He added that there have been other safety measures besides additional officers, including reinstating business checks where the police check to ensure businesses are locked and safe at night, adding two new police cars since 2019 and acquiring the first police SUV this year.


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