A significant appointment that will affect the public safety of nearly 10,000 Lower Saucon Township residents and many others for years to come was made by township council Wednesday.
Several months after former police chief Guy Lesser retired, council voted unanimously to offer the position of chief to veteran township police officer, Sgt. Tom Barndt.
Barndt–who was in attendance at the meeting–immediately accepted the offer, and his swearing in ceremony will be held at council’s next meeting, which will be on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. at Lower Saucon Town Hall.
He will officially begin work as chief on Monday.
Barndt is a Lower Saucon Township native, a lifelong resident, a 1982 graduate of Saucon Valley High School and a 29-year member of the department.
The new chief thanked council for the opportunity to apply for the position and said he will outline his vision for leading the township’s police force at his swearing in.
Barndt will earn a starting salary of $93,400 and will receive medical and other benefits and five weeks of paid vacation as part of his employment package. He will also receive a payout for accrued sick days he has earned as a sergeant with the Lower Saucon Township Police Department, per the scale that is included in the current police contract, council determined.
His selection was made by a search committee from a field of three candidates, all of whom were well-qualified, township manager Leslie Huhn said.
However, “it became very apparent that Tom Barndt had the character and traits to be the next police chief of Lower Saucon Township,” she said.
Huhn noted that the search committee was made up of council members, residents and Lower Saucon Township Police Officers Association President Jeremy Hantz.
“Being a member of that search committee, I went home with headaches. It was very intense. It was very well done,” council vice president Priscilla deLeon said. “I wanted to make sure that the person who was offered this position out of everybody who applied was the best qualified.” And she can say with certainty that Barndt is, she added.
In prepared remarks, Hantz congratulated Barndt on his selection. He also thanked councilwoman Donna Louder for her support for the township police, which he said has been above and beyond that of other township officials.
Louder’s husband is Lower Saucon Township Police officer Tom Louder, who was in attendance at the meeting along with a number of other township officers.
Hantz also thanked Interim Police Chief John Scruggs for the way in which he “spiked morale” in a way the department “never expected” over the last few months as he led the department. He will be missed, Hantz said.
Lastly, he thanked council as a whole for approving a police study that was issued last year. The study found fault with the department’s leadership– among other concerns–and made numerous recommendations. Hantz said the department is looking forward to working with the new chief and also the approval of a new police contract in the near future.
The Lower Saucon Township Police Department is made up of 23 employees and one K-9. Fifteen members are full-time officers, six are part-time officers and there are two full time civilian support staff.
The department’s history dates to 1930 or earlier, when it was staffed by volunteers, according to a brief history published on the township website.
A paid part-time force of three men was finally established in 1953, and that department gradually grew to the size that it is today.
For more information about the township police department, visit the township website.