Tunkhannock Twp. Police celebrates 30 years
BY JOSH MROZINSKI
And that is a goal to make the community a little safer during each shift, Chief Bernie Griff said.
As the police department celebrates its 30-year anniversary this month, it is also recalling how the department has evolved into a trained organization.
“Over a 30-year period, the community has changed a lot and it has grown and policing has changed,” Griff said. “Municipal police officers today are more highly trained than 30 years ago.”
Tunkhannock Township Supervisors hired their first officer, Benjamin Zdaniewicz, on Feb. 2, 1978, at an hourly pay of $4.50 plus 15 cents per mile.
Today, full-time township police are paid from $27,931 to $53,787 and part-time officers, $12.68 an hour.
Tunkhannock Township Supervisor Glenn “Ace” Shupp said that a police department was formed because the township’s population increased, with the building of developments such as Rivercrest on Route 92.
“They do the job, they are professionals at it,” Shupp said.
He added that he is concerned, however, about an attempt to create a statewide pension system for municipal police because it could be costly to the township.
Griff said a statewide pension plan may be a financial strain for small communities, depending on the bill’s language.
He added that it is likely that the township would not be strained because its officers already have a pension through the state.
The pension began in the 1980s just before Griff was hired in 1988.
Griff recalls that the area’s landscape was filled with pastures and farms when he joined the department.
“You kinda learned on the road,” Griff said. “When the state mandated police officer training, it was long overdue and made a big difference.”
Griff said that mandated training has made the profession more responsive to community needs.
Today, police not only learn to investigate crimes and about law, they also receive training in National Incident Management Systems and other subjects.
In 2004, retired Tunkhannock Borough Police Chief Roland Farr worked with township police as an adviser on a critical response plan and other topics, including regionalization.
Farr, who now lives in North Carolina, said that the critical response plan allowed township police to focus on the incident at hand.
The former Tunkhannock Borough resident also recalled working with township police when he was borough police chief.
“When I was borough police chief they only had two guys at the township and they only had one guy for a while,” Farr said, adding that the township police chief at the time, Michael Hudock, was good at his job.
Hudock, who formerly played professional football for the New York Titans and Kansas City Chiefs, was well known in the area.
Farr added that the township’s officers were “out there working.”
“The township was taking care of their police department and the police department was taking care of the township,” Farr said.