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W-B Police Chief To Retire After Release Of Operations Report

April 4, 2018

WILKES-BARRE - Embattled Wilkes-Barre police Chief Marcella Lendacky will step down in June, Mayor Tony George announced Wednesday in a press release..

Lendacky issued a letter to the mayor informing him she was retire on June 3, the mayor announced.

“I want to thank Chief Lendacky for the twenty-nine years of service she provided to the City of Wilkes-Barre and its residents. I certainly wish her the best as she moves on to her next chapter,” George said.

The announcement comes after the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association recently issued a report critical of Lendacky’s management of the department.

Councilwoman Beth Gilbert confirmed in an emailed statement that council members today received a report from the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association on departmental operations, and that the report has not been redacted or censored.

While she said she couldn’t comment on specifics contained in the report, Gilbert said the report states that both police Chief Marcella Lendacky and Patrol Division Commander Ronald Foy “are lacking qualifications and effective leadership to lead our police department.”

Gilbert said the assertion is backed by statements from police leadership, police officers, the police union and city officials, including herself.

Neither Lendacky nor Foy immediately returned messages seeking comment.

“I am hoping that both Lendacky and Foy see their shortcomings and agree to step down over the next few days so that new, more effective and qualified leadership can take over,” Gilbert said. ”I look forward to a new beginning for our police department.”

Wilkes-Barre Councilman Mike Belusko said mayor Tony George told him to expect a shake-up “on the top shelf” of police administration.

Belusko said he had only gotten through reading the first five pages of the report, so he could not comment on specifics. He did say it appears that issues expressed by the police union are very prominent in the report.

He also said the report contains recommendations, but he had not yet read them.

Belusko said he was told that both George and Lendacky were expected to make statements, possibly today or tomorrow.

Council in November voted to accept a proposal from the chiefs association for review and assessment of the police department for a total cost of $26,212. Association staff began the review in early December.

Council members had described the department as “dysfunctional” since union leaders began criticizing the leadership of Marcella Lendacky when George appointed her police chief early in 2016.

Union officials have accused the administration of retaliation through suspensions of officers and the firing of police union vice president Dan Duffy for their criticism of Lendacky and the administration. Mayor Tony George has denied any retaliation and has defended Lendacky.

“I would like to thank my fellow colleagues on council, particularly Councilman Bill Barrett, for agreeing to work with me in obtaining a study of the police department,” Gilbert said in her statement. “I advocated for this since we were initially approached in January of 2016 to conduct an investigation, so to earn all of your support in this meant a lot.”

Gilbert said she especially wanted to thank the police union, Meyers, Duffy, “and all of the officers who came forward to give their side of the story, even in the face of the constant threats that they faced.”

“They are the definition of bravery, and I could not be any prouder to have stood by your side and worked with all of you during this long, often disheartening process,” Gilbert said. “You all are the true heroes here, and you deserve all the praise in the world for helping to stand up for what is right, even when it felt like the world was against you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

City Administrator Ted Wampole said the report would be released to the public after city Attorney Tim Henry analyzes it to determine what if any parts should be redacted while meeting requirements of the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law.

A call to George was not immediately returned Wednesday.

Contact the writer: smocarsky@citizensvoice.com, 570-821-2110, @MocarskyCV

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