Reconsideration plan for police chief falls short

City manager says only two council members submitted letters of support

Updated at 2:45 p.m. with quote from Councilman Jeff LoPrinzi

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times

An effort to get Maj. John “Jack” W. Laufer III to change his mind about becoming Coatesville’s permanent police chief did not go as planned.

A plan to try and salvage a failed vote to hire a new police chief did not materialize, City Manager Kirby Hudson said this morning.

Hudson had hoped to schedule a face-to-face meeting with Maj. John “Jack” W. Laufer III, a respected veteran of the state police, asking him to reconsider the position. Laufer, one of two candidates selected by a high-profile search committee,  was Hudson’s choice to head the beleaguered department; however, on Sept. 10,  after a contentious 3 ½ hour meeting, Laufer failed to gain approval and withdrew his name from consideration.

Citing the city’s dire financial straits, Councilwoman C. Arvilla Hunt, a vocal supporter of Interim Police Chief James Bell, was the lone dissenter in the 3-1 vote. Because three council members were absent, the vote did not constitute a majority of the seven-member body. Bell, who does not meet the qualifications for chief advertised by the city, makes about $15,000 less than Laufer would have earned.

Since then, Hudson, who has said publicly that the police department would benefit greatly from Laufer’s leadership, said many council members had urged him to reach out to Laufer in hopes of getting him to change his mind.

Hudson said he had planned to seek approval from Laufer to meet with him and Coatesville Det. Sean Dowds, the FOP representative, today in Harrisburg. Hudson said he and Dowds wanted to hand-deliver letters of support and express the city’s plea for his reconsideration. The FOP wrote its own letter.

“It was decided Wednesday that the council members would write individual letters and get them to me Thursday,” Hudson said. “I only got two letters … I thought I would get at least six.”

Hudson said he does not know why he did not receive more, but he said “it doesn’t make much sense” to try and get Laufer to change his mind with such minimal support. He declined to say which members submitted letters.

Councilman Joseph Hamrick said he and Councilman Ed Simpson wrote the letters. “We do not know why no one else did,” Hamrick said. As for the next step, Hamrick said  he would expect to hear another “plan of action” from Hudson at Monday night’s executive session.

“I will be prepared on Monday to discuss my Plan B with council,” Hudson said.

Councilman Jeff LoPrinzi said he believes a misunderstanding occurred regarding the letter-writing plan. He said he never had the opportunity to meet Laufer so he didn’t think it was appropriate for him to write a personal letter; however, based on the assessments he heard from others, he called Laufer “a fantastic candidate.”

“We need to have further discussion on this,” he said, adding that he had already shared his thoughts with Council President David Collins. “I’m going to bring this up at the executive session Monday.”

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  1. James Dockett says:

    The cops in Coatesville are not looking for jobs elsewhere because no one will hire them. They have a repretation of being undisciplined and corrupt. As far as cronyism is concerned there was cronyism for years with Canale, Quinn, Shesko, and all the administration that retired suddenly without even a good bye email.
    The officers say that Bell is incompetent but he is not under grand jury indictment like the last Chief Canale and his whole administration.

  2. I think that some Coatesville PD officers aren’t waiting around for City Council and are looking for employment elsewhere. Could it be that they can’t stand working under an incompetent chief. Or maybe they suspect cronyism runs the PD right now? Is it true that Bell was fired for “shooting baskets” instead of police work by then Valley Township Chairman Grover Koon?

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