AP NEWS

Wilkes-Barre City Police Adds Three New Officers

May 14, 2019

WILKES-BARRE — Three new recruits to the city police department were inspired in their career choice by men who themselves chose paths of public service that put them in harm’s way, and working in the city has been their goal.

Mayor Tony George on Monday administered the oath of office to Christopher Ward, Timothy Brodhead and Joseph Benson — three young men who said they’ve always wanted to be a cop in the county seat.

Benson, 26, said being a cop is “something I’ve always wanted to do my entire life. I’ve been a cop since 2013, served with multiple departments and I feel like Wilkes-Barre City is the department I’ve always wanted to work for.”

“It’s the most reputable, and my father works here,” Benson explained, shooting a glance at his beaming dad, 10-year veteran Patrolman Chris Benson.

The elder Benson, who held the Bible for his son’s oath and pinned a badge on his jacket, said having his son join the force “feels great. He’s a good kid and he’s coming from a well-trained police department. … It’s an honor to have him working with me.”

Brodhead, 25, said he’s lived his entire life in the city of Wilkes-Barre. “This is where I grew up, this is home. So ever since I decided I wanted to become a cop, this is where I wanted to be.”

He started out in loss prevention at a store where his boss, a retired federal agent, “steered me to this side of a career. Working there, I developed good relations with Wilkes-Barre Twp. police because that’s where the store was,” he said.

So, Brodhead put himself through the police academy and applied for a job with the township. “I already knew everybody over there, so I figured it’d be a good fit. I got in, worked there for three years and now here I am,” he said.

Ward, 26, said he worked part-time for both Wilkes-Barre Twp. and Pittston. But “being born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, it’s a place I always wanted to work. I went to King’s College here, I interned with the Wilkes-Barre City Police Department through college. When I interned, I kind of fell in love with the job they do here in the city. It’s always where I wanted to be.”

Ward said his grandfather was a firefighter, and although he grew up hearing stories about how his grandfather served the community and he wanted to emulate him, he didn’t have much interest in working for the fire department.

“I kind of felt a pull toward the police aspect of community service. Once I did the internship, I kind of fell in love with the job. … Ever since then, it’s all I’ve really wanted to do,” Ward said.

Police Chief Joseph Coffay congratulated the new recruits after the ceremony.

“We’re very proud and excited to have these officers join the Wilkes-Barre family and thank them and their families for committing themselves to serve the city,” Coffay said.

The new hires bring the department’s complement to 78, including the chief. There are 79 uniformed positions budgeted for 2019, including a vacant commander post.

Filling vacancies

George, a retired city police chief and former councilman, announced last month that the city is sending four more recruits for police training and certification this summer.

Since George took office, there have been 12 retirements in the department.

After the retirement of then chief Marcella Lendacky last June, George restructured the department administration, eliminating Ron Foy’s commander of patrol post and moving him to his former detective position, and changing Coffay’s commander of investigations position simply to commander. He appointed Coffay chief in November.

George Brown, who is challenging George for the Democratic nomination for mayor in the May 21 primary, has questioned why George announced the hires so close to the election rather than fill vacant posts a year ago.

In response, George noted there were three administrative positions — chief and two commanders — when he took office. “Now, we just have a Chief. I will be discussing the commander positions with the chief, but our priority right now is to fill the rank-and-file openings.”

“Two officers retired in February, and the next Act 120 class does not start until July. Instead of waiting until July, we hired the three candidates who already have Act 120 certifications. We plan to hire four more by the end of June, with the anticipation of more people retiring by the end of the year,” he said.

George said he has hired nine officers since taking office, and his administration is being “proactive in hiring four more officers to balance the anticipated retirements. The city has a thorough application and examination process so that we have the best police department in the region.”

Contact the writer:

smocarsky@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2110, @MocarskyCV

 

New police officer bios

Christopher Ward, Badge 694

n Born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, graduated from Coughlin High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from King’s College.

n After graduating Act 120 at Lackawanna College in 2016, worked part-time as a police officer for both Wilkes-Barre Twp. and Pittston police departments.

n Was a member of the Wilkes-Barre Twp. police Special Investigations Unit.

n Obtained several police-related trainings including Tactical Emergency Casualty Care.

 

Timothy Brodhead, Badge 695

n Born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, graduated from Meyers High School and attended Luzerne County Community College.

n After graduating Act 120 at Lackawanna College in 2015, worked as a part-time police officer for the Wilkes-Barre Twp. Police Department.

n Was a member of the Wilkes-Barre Twp. police Special Investigations Unit.

Joseph Benson, Badge 696.

n Born and raised in the Wilkes-Barre area, graduated from Crestwood High School and attended Luzerne County Community College.

n After graduating Act 120 at Lackawanna College in 2012, worked as a part-time officer in Avoca, Pittston and Ashley. He was as a police officer in Fairview Twp. since 2016.

n Obtained several police-related trainings including Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, Active Shooter, Firearms Instructor and Top Gun.

n This year, received recognition from the Luzerne County STOP Coalition and District Attorney Stephanie Salavantis for his efforts to reduce opioid overdose deaths.