Coffay Named W-B Police Chief
WILKES-BARRE — Mayor Tony George has chosen police Commander Joe Coffay as the city’s next chief of police.
The mayor identified the 28-year department veteran as his choice on Friday in a news release announcing a swearing-in ceremony at 10 a.m. Wednesday in council chambers at city hall.
Council members were informed of the mayor’s decision and invited to the ceremony via email earlier this week, council president Tony Brooks said Friday.
Neither George nor Coffay responded to requests for comment.
The position has been open since Marcella Lendacky retired as chief on June 3. Lendacky announced her retirement on April 4 — the same day the administration released a report by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association that was critical of her leadership and that of former Patrol Commander Ron Foy.
George named Coffay as the officer in charge pending the appointment of a new chief. He he advertised the opening locally on April 26, and shortly thereafter with the Pennsylvania Municipal League, which posted the job on its Municipal Jobs Junction website.
Among the required qualifications in the ads was possessing a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration or related field “or
equivalent law enforcement experience” and/or being a graduate of “an advanced training course such as the FBI National Academy, Northwestern University School of Staff and Command … or other recognized and equivalent law enforcement training.”
A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration and the examples of advanced training courses were specifically noted as lacking from Lendacky’s training and education in the Chiefs of Police Association assessment report.
Coffay holds an associate degree in applied science/criminal justice and a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice, and he had attended a police executive training class at Pennsylvania State University.
Thirteen people had applied for the position, city Administrator Ted Wampole said in May.
Applicants included two city police officers, a retired city police officer, three people from Northeast Pennsylvania, one from Philadelphia and six from other states including New Mexico, Ohio, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and New York.
George had named a search and interview committee comprised of Wampole, city Attorney Tim Henry, retired city police Capt. Tom Merlie and Councilman Bill Barrett, who is a retired city police chief. The committee recommended three finalists; one of those three withdrew from consideration, and negotiations on salary and benefits with the two remaining finalists stalled in June.
Contact the writer: