POWERS. Interpreters of the state’s borough code say a mayor carries out the policies crafted by borough councils.

By MARYALICE MELI mameli@ncnewsonline.com While Pennsylvania’s borough code appears to give full control over police departments to mayors, councils have the ultimate authority. Council last night resolved a series of disputes between Ellwood City’s mayor and its police chief by adopting a resolution detailing 24 specific duties for the chief to carry out. The mayor may not revoke council’s action. Solicitor Edward Leymarie Jr. said that when council does not spell out the police chief’s duties the mayor is in charge. The code gives council the authority to create the police department, hire the police chief and to outline the duties of the post. Mike Foreman, municipal policy specialist with the Governor’s Center For Local Government Services, said council, the mayor and the police chief should create a shared working relationship. Foreman was not speaking specifically about Ellwood City, but of any borough. “The mayor is not the policy maker,” Foreman said. “The mayor’s role is executive, not legislative. “Because council is the legislative body, council can adopt a job description for the chief to clarify what he is to do to fulfill his duties. The mayor has to accept it whether he has had input or not.” Foreman said the mayor’s function is to preserve order in the community and may oversee the operation of the police department, and assure that the chief carries out his duties. In addition, Foreman said, “Borough council has jurisdiction over borough premises and its use. The code is silent on the mayor’s use of an office.” Leymarie said the large office Mayor Don Clyde had created for himself will now be a police administration office with access to Chief Richard McDonald’s office as well as to the police dayroom as it had been organized previously. Borough manager Dom Viccari, who has jurisdiction over space in the borough building, said, “Right now, we don’t know where we’re going to put the mayor. It’s not vindictive. We want to do what’s right.” Foreman said the mayor should be granted access to the police department to be able to supervise the operation in person. However, that does not mean an office in the department. Previously, the mayor’s office was located just outside the department near the front door of the borough building for easy access to the public. “The chief not only has to work with the mayor,” Foreman said, “but has to work with council in crafting relative and practical policies to address the public safety interests of the community and to manage police department personnel.” The duties council has outlined for McDonald include preparing, supervising and controlling the department’s annual budget, purchases as approved by the borough manager and supervising the department’s physical space. He also is to oversee the daily activities of officers and of auxiliary and reserve officers, crossing guards, meter enforcement officer and animal control officer, coordinate all investigations, keep local personnel, state files and reports, and oversee all equipment. The chief is to be responsible for scheduling officers, maintaining discipline, conducting performance reviews, establishing uniform, weapons and ammunition specifications. He is to control public relations and information about incidents to news media, to supervise and safeguard evidence and to give oral and written reports to council as well as act as liaison between council, the mayor and the department.

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