PLUMSTED: Chief staying put

Officials dispel rumors of Petrecca’s departure

by James McEvoy, Managing Editor
PLUMSTED — Amid rumors that have been swirling around the township in recent weeks, Mayor David Leutwyler has stated Chief Matthew Petrecca isn’t going anywhere.
   ”I sat down and talked with the chief, his intention now is to stay,” Mayor Leutwyler said at a special meeting June 19.
   ”I told him that that doesn’t mean we’re not still intent on trying to find ways to give him, I want to say, more incentive,” he continued. “I told him that we had no guarantees, unfortunately, because of our financial situation.”
   Mayor Leutwyler’s comments came after weeks of speculation that the Chief Petrecca’s departure from the Plumsted Police Department was imminent.
   In an interview after the meeting Chief Petrecca confirmed he would in fact remain with the department.
   Though he declined to comment specifically on the rumors which had been circulating about his potential departure, he said he looks forward to focusing on the task at hand.
   ”I just look forward to continuing to serve the residents of the town, moving forward with the agency and trying to make the department better,” he said. “I’ll be the chief of police until I know it’s time to go.
   ”We have one of the most elite police departments around and I couldn’t ask for better officers,” he added, while also commending the township administration.
   ”I have a great governing body that does work with me,” he said. “The mayor and committee do a great job working in the interest of public safety.”
   Business Administrator Ron Dancer previously told the Messenger Press there is no requirement for the township to have a contract with the police chief since Plumsted is a non-civil service municipality.
   While there is no contract, Mr. Dancer said the chief’s salary is set at $2,000 above the salary of the second highest ranking officer as negotiated in the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association contract, per township policies.
   Chief Petrecca’s current salary is $75,560, though future salaries for the chief of police could be impacted by any new PBA agreement. The current PBA contract expires on Dec. 31.
   Despite the assurances of officials, Luisa Erich-Carr, of Holmes Road, called for better compensation for Chief Petrecca during the public comment portion of the meeting.
   ”I made it very clear last year (when he was appointed chief) when you give him a position like that it comes with money,” Ms. Erich-Carr said. “You don’t get that type of position without money. That’s how you show respect for the person.”
   Mayor Leutwyler said while he did not disagree with her sentiments, township officials were up front regarding Chief Petrecca’s compensation when he was appointed.
   ”It doesn’t mean if we can do something that we’re not going to try and do it, because he does a great job for us,” he said. “Hopefully, he’ll be here a long time.”
   Chief Petrecca was appointed to the post last August after a new township ordinance established the position. The department consists of 12 officers. Danielle DePalma and Ryan Nani were sworn in at the meeting as probationary officers who will serve as school resource officers.
   For the previous three years, Chief Petrecca ran the department as a sergeant. At the time of his appointment as chief, his salary increased from $70,963 to $72,963.
   Michael Lynch, who had served as public safety director since 2004, retired from the position when Chief Petrecca was appointed.