Pa. City Delays Sale of Police Patrol Station after Opposition from FOP

April 5, 2024
The head of Allentown's Fraternal Order of Police criticized the potential sale of the building where most officers and vehicles are stationed before alternate arrangements had been made.

Allentown’s plans to put its police patrol station up for sale fell through this week after City Council delayed a vote.

Allentown FOP president Dave Benner criticized the mayor for trying to put the building up for sale before alternate arrangements for officers had been made, and threatened to file a legal injunction if the sale went forward.

Mayor Matt Tuerk said the vote would only have kickstarted the sale process, and vowed not to leave police officers without a place to work.

The building at 1007 Hamilton St. is home of the city’s police patrol station, where most police officers and vehicles are stationed. The city bought the building from the parking authority in 2010. The building was constructed in 1939 and has been plagued by issues like roof leaks in recent years.

The resolution says the sale of the building would bring a needed “cash infusion” to the city, enhance land value and generate new real estate tax revenue.

City officials announced plans in February to sell the 10th Street building and bring all police officers under one roof at the city’s other police building on 4th Street that houses police administrative officers and its community outreach arm. Allentown plans to rehabilitate and build an addition to the 4th Street headquarters, which would double the building’s square footage and cost at least $28 million.

But Benner said the city should not begin the sale process until it has secured a place for officers to work in the meantime. Constructing the new police headquarters will take at least two years, taking into account the design, planning, approval and construction process.

“Why would we sell the police station without having one in place, where are you going to put us?” Benner said Wednesday.

He vowed to file an emergency injunction against the city if it moves forward with plans to sell, and said doing so indicates an improper “backdoor deal” to sell the station without public input.

The city plans to lease a temporary space for police officers to work from while construction on the new headquarters is underway, but has not yet made those arrangements.

Tuerk said he took “offense” to Benner’s comments and said the city would ensure it had alternative work arrangements for officers before they are displaced from the station.

“The action that we are asking council to take here simply authorizes us to begin the sales process, so it’s preposterous to suggest that this administration, or any administration, would leave some of our most critical employees hanging in the lurch,” Tuerk said.

Advocates for Allentown police also said a vote on putting the building up for sale should be delayed because of Benner’s objections.

“Give those cops the respect they deserve, that’s what I’m asking and I’m asking you to table it,” said Allentown School Board director Phoebe Harris. “We don’t want them not knowing what’s going to happen to them.”

City Council opted unanimously to table the move to sell the building because of those concerns.


©2024 The Morning Call.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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