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September 16, 2014
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Turmoil in Honesdale over top cop; Council names police commissioner


The title change became necessary when a letter from the state civil service commission revealed that Southerton is currently ineligible to sit for the noncompetitive examination required of candidates for this position, because he has not completed one year of service in a Pennsylvania police department. When Southerton was nominated for the position of chief, both he and the council were aware of that requirement. However, both were also fairly confident that the civil service commission would readily grant a waiver of the requirement, in light of Southerton’s 20-plus years of law enforcement experience with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. When that proved not to be the case, the council changed the job title and limited Southerton’s appointment to a conditional one-year term. Southerton was scheduled to be sworn in by Langendoerfer at 10 a.m. on October 15.

What remains unclear are the nature and parameters of the new commissioner position. In question is whether the position will be that of a working police chief, with Southerton responding to incidents as a uniformed officer, or whether the position will be that of an administrator only. Both citizens and longtime Honesdale police officers have cited the need for additional officers in the borough. If Southerton’s appointment is as administrator only, it will effectively reduce the force by one officer.