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Montoursville police officer fired

March 27, 2008
By MARK MARONEY mmaroney@sungazette.com
A Montoursville police officer has been fired from his job over a myriad of alleged violations, borough officials have confirmed.

Officer Kurt Hockman, who was hired in 2001, was fired from after a special meeting of Borough Council on Monday night, Council President Robert Gehr said Wednesday afternoon.

Gehr said the reasons for the termination are ‘‘neglect and violation of an official duty and inefficiency, (again neglect), intemperance, disobedience of orders or conduct unbecoming of an officer.’’

Hockman could not be reached for comment. Because he is no longer a borough employee, officials could not provide contact information for him.

Gehr did not elaborate on any specific allegations and said the department resumes its duties as usual.

‘‘Certainly, it will be an adjustment for the borough police, which continue to provide 24-hour, seven-day-a-week coverage,’’ said Gehr, who is serving in his first year as council president.

Hockman’s departure still gives the borough five full-time and five part-time officers. Among them are Chief Daniel Strailey.

Borough Solicitor Garth Everett said he did not attend the special Monday meeting but expects Hockman to appeal the decision. The police are represented by a union, but Hockman also could go through the Civil Service Commission to appeal.

Everett and Gehr said the matter was discussed by council in executive session, but Gehr said the dismissal was done during the public portion of the meeting.

Hockman had the option of having a public or private hearing before council, but chose a private meeting, Everett said.

Everett said such hearings are exempt under current Sunshine Law, which dictates what issues public bodies may hold in secrecy.

Mayor John Dorin was upset and he acknowledged, when asked, that police staffing issues are erupting in the news lately here and elsewhere across the state.

‘‘Some 99 percent are great police officers,’’ he said. ‘‘It only takes one-tenth of 1 percent to ruin it.’’

Dorin said it’s not just a Lycoming County problem. He said those who care to may examine newspapers in Harrisburg, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre to see how many police are under fire.

Hockman’s firing occurred within weeks of Jersey Shore Council’s dismissal of police Sgt. Chad Aldenderfer. Borough officials will not disclose reasons for Aldenderfer’s termination.

In Hughesville, Rodney Smith, the officer in charge, was suspended by council, a decision that was lifted. Council and Smith’s legal counsel reached an agreement, but details were not revealed.

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