KULPMONT — Arrests, traffic citations and drug busts are on the rise since mid-August when three new officers joined recently appointed Chief Nathan Foust in the growing Kulpmont Borough Police Department.
The department has been a welcome sight for residents of the borough as officers have been seen hitting the streets. It’s been a positive reaction from the community every day with people excited to see the force grow, according to Foust.
Mayor Nicholas Bozza said he’s had numerous comments about the officers walking around and introducing themselves to the residents.
Since August 2016, the department had been operating with two officers, then-chief Patrick McAndrew and Foust. Numerous attempts were made to increase the force in the borough, but like surrounding departments, Kulpmont experienced difficulty drawing in qualified applicants.
Borough council was hoping to enter into a police merger with Mount Carmel Township, which fell through in May when it failed for lack of a second motion at the township supervisors meeting. Not wanting to lose any more time in bringing full coverage to the borough, council worked quickly to find new officers.
Following McAndrew’s resignation and move to Mount Carmel Township Police Department in July, council swore Foust in as the new chief and approved the hiring of former Sunbury chief Steve Mazzeo, John McHugh and Brandon Toter.
Mazzeo came to the borough with 40 years of experience in Easton and Sunbury. McHugh had 11 years experience as an officer in Mahanoy City. Toter, a newcomer, was approved for hire upon completion of his police academy training and has been taken under the wing of his fellow three well-seasoned officers.
Foust said the merger fell through in a way that worked out in the borough’s favor because they were able to bring those three men into the police department.
Bozza had supported growing the Kulpmont police department over entering into a merger with the township, and said a knot in his stomach loosened when the township didn’t approve it. He’s thrilled with the new officers and said they are fortunate to have them in the borough.
“This is what I’ve always wanted, and I think that council thinks this was a great idea, too,” said Bozza. “Council played a very big part in this and you have to give them credit because they did a great job in pulling this together and making it happen quickly.”
Without council’s “spitfire motivation,” Bozza said the borough would be operating with one officer right now, and under the leadership of Councilman Bob Slaby the department is close to settling a new contract by mid-September.
The switch to chief was an easy one, Foust said, with the biggest difference being the paperwork and reports. The new officers have fallen into the job as if they had been there their entire careers, he added.
“Both of the seasoned officers came from two different jobs and have said they love it here. They actually like coming to work and they want to come to work, so that right there made me as happy as can be with everything they’re doing,” Foust said.
Bozza is excited about the future of the department, saying, “As long as I’m mayor and these guys are on board with me and we keep this relationship, we will have one of the best forces in Northumberland County, without a doubt.”
If residents haven’t noticed the change in police presence throughout the borough, they can keep track of how busy their officers have been through the Kulpmont Borough Police Department Facebook page.
Since launching in mid-August, police have posted several drug arrests, including mugshots to keep residents aware of the work they’ve been doing. Foust said every criminal arrest in the borough will be posted on the Facebook page.
With the Facebook page serving as another way for police to interact with the people they serve, Foust encourages residents to like and share the page that was created by himself and McHugh.
The department will be patroling the streets today as part of Kulpmont100’s inaugural First Responders Appreciation Parade. Foust said he’s thankful to the organization and to the borough for taking the time to honor those who keep our communities safe.
Bozza said the parade is a great opportunity for the officers to meet residents face-to-face on a larger scale than they have been doing.
The parade begins at 1 p.m. on Chestnut and Fifth streets and will make its way down Chestnut Street to 15th Street. In addition to police, it will feature firefighters and EMS personnel along with vehicles from local, county and state agencies, all led by grand marshal Chet Gard, a life member of Kulpmont’s fire companies, American Legion, VFW, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club and Holy Angel’s Parish Holy Name Society.