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Veteran Officer Coffay Sworn In As W-B Police Chief

November 22, 2018
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Veteran Officer Coffay Sworn In As W-B Police Chief

WILKES-BARRE — The halls of city hall were packed to see Joseph Coffay sworn in as Wilkes-Barre police chief on Wednesday. Coffay, 53, has 32 years of experience in law enforcement, the last 27 years with Wilkes-Barre police. He has led the department on an interim basis since the retirement of former police Chief Marcella Lendacky in early June. Mayor Tony George praised Coffay for the leadership he has shown during that time. George, a former city police officer and chief, said Coffay stood out from the time he was hired. “You could tell right away he was a cop’s cop,” George said. “You can tell he has not changed at all.” Coffay worked as a patrol officer, a detective, a captain and as commander of investigations, the title he held before being promoted to chief. George praised Coffay’s work with a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency task force over 12 years. Scores of city police officers filled the city council meeting chambers and the hall outside it to see Coffay sworn in, with his family beside him. Coffay, who described himself as a detective and investigator at heart, said he had to “step outside (his) comfort zone” to accept the top job in the department’s administration. He said the support of his family, friends and fellow officers convinced him to take on the new responsibilities. Coffay said he plans to lead a department “that is not only proactive but serves the community.” Following the ceremony, city council Chairman Tony Brooks said he looks forward to working with Coffay. “It’s a new day in Wilkes-Barre,” Brooks said. Coffay holds an associate degree in applied science/criminal justice and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He also attended a police executive training class at Penn State University. His education, experience and leadership skills were praised in a report released in April by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association. City officials commissioned the report following long-time discord in the city police department. George’s proposed 2019 city budget, to which council gave preliminary approval on Tuesday, includes $98,345 for the police chief’s position. Full details of the new chief’s compensation, including benefits, longevity pay and other potential adjustments, were not available Wednesday. STEVE MOCARSKY, staff writer, contributed to this report. Contact the writer: emark@citizensvoice.com 570-821-2117 JOSEPH COFFAY Age: 53 Hometown: Wilkes-Barre Education: Associate degree in applied science/criminal justice from LCCC Bachelor or arts degree in criminal justice from King’s College. Attended the police executive training class at Penn State. Experience 28 years of service with the Wilkes-Barre Police Department. Prior to becoming sole commander in June, he led the Investigations Division. Promoted to captain in 2013 after 22 years of service. Detective since 2004 Member with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency since 2002 Served with the Pottstown Police Department from 1986-1991

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