Coatesville’s police-chief candidate withdraws name

State police veteran did not comment on his decision, which came after a grueling meeting

Updated at 5:15 p.m. with comment from City Council President

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times

Councilwoman C. Arvilla Hunt, who opposed the selection of Maj. John “Jack” W. Laufer as police chief, assists newly-elected Council President David C. Collins with moving into the leadership seat.

In the wake of a contentious City Council meeting last night that failed to resolve issues regarding permanent police leadership and dire financial woes, the announced candidate for police chief no longer wants the job.

Maj. John “Jack” W. Laufer III, a veteran of the state police, said this morning that he withdrew his name following the nearly 3½-hour meeting. He declined further comment.

Laufer, currently the director of the state police Bureau of Training and Education, was one of two candidates selected by a search committee of diverse, well-regarded volunteers. The panel submitted the names to City Manager Kirby Hudson, who conducted additional interviews. Hudson announced last night that he had chosen Laufer to run the department, which has been plagued by understaffing and litigation –  a decision subject to approval by City Council.

When the council voted, only four members were present: newly-elected President David C. Collins, Joseph Hamrick, Jarrell Brazzle and C. Arvilla Hunt. Councilwoman Ingrid Jones left midway through the meeting, and Councilmen Ed Simpson and Jeff LoPrinzi were absent. Citing medical issues, Simpson stepped down as president at the last meeting.

Calling Laufer’s withdrawal unfortunate, Collins said this afternoon that Hudson would contact the second candidate recommended by the search committee. If that individual is no longer interested in the position, Collins said the panel would be asked if it recommended a third or fourth candidate. If not, the the search would start over, he said.

Asked whether he feared that the city’s grim financial picture would impede the process, Collins said no.  “I believe that there are many qualified candidates in the area,” he said, adding that belt-tightening would have to occur in all the city’s departments. “The city has gotten too used to dipping into the trust fund … Our costs have to be in line with our revenues.”

In casting the lone dissenting vote that prevented Laufer from getting majority approval, Hunt cited the city’s red ink. Finance Director John Marcarelli reported last night that  without a $2.25 million infusion from the city’s reserve fund, Coatesville will be unable to meet its payroll for most of the remainder of the year. Hunt said that Interim Police Chief James Bell is doing “a great job,” and because Bell is paid an estimated $15,000 less than the $90,000 salary Laufer would have received, she said there was no rush to replace him.

Bell’s appointment as interim chief generated a no-confidence letter from the Coatesville Police Benevolent Association, which accused the city of disregarding the minimum requirements it advertised for its police chief. Those  qualifications include Act 120 certification and a bachelor’s degree, which Bell lacks.

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  1. Matt Baker says:

    Not surprised at all as this is a repeat of the Harry Walker/Richie Legree/Lt. Joel Fitzgerald circus circa 2008/2009 when a committee vetted candidates for Chief of the CPD and picked Lt. Joel Fitzgerald of the Phila PD and Harry Walker tried to get Lt. Fitzgerald to bring on Richie Legree before accepting the job. Fitzgerald declined and as a result we got Bill Matthews. Anyone see a parallel?

  2. stacy bjorhus says:

    Chief Canale lacked a college degree when he was hired as the City’s Chief of Police. Why is that an issue now, for his replacement?

    The City paid for Chief Canale’s BA, but should the Chief have refunded any of the tuition paid by the City? What about travel fees to and from the university that Canale attended. (Travel to and from school is not an eligible reimbursement, but the City Managers paid for the Chief”s travel expenses. Why?) Were those fees reimbursed? Was tuition paid on his behalf, within a year of his retirement?

    For that matter were any of the other recent staff members who separated from the City required to refund tuition payments that were paid to them by the City?

    The City states that it requires employees to refund all monies recieved for tuition if they separate from the City within a year of the reimbursement.

    No wonder the City is floundering financially!

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