Funding source sought for breath test equipment in Allentown

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ALLENTOWN – Municipal officials will work to identify a source of funding for a piece of equipment they say the Allentown Police Department requires.

During a Borough Council meeting on Sept. 8, Councilman Dan Payson raised the issue of how individuals who are suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol are tested by Allentown’s police officers.

Payson chairs the Public Safety Committee and said $18,000 is needed to purchase new equipment because the police department’s current equipment is not working.

Mayor Thomas Fritts said, “Our (testing) equipment is dysfunctional and our police officers cannot keep taking people to other towns to conduct the test.”

The council meeting was streamed live to the community on Facebook. Residents who are watching the meeting at home may use a feature on the social media platform to make comments in real time while municipal officials are discussing an issue.

Rob Schmitt, a former councilman who is running to return to the governing body in the Nov. 3 election, wrote, “Why wasn’t the Breathalyzer (test) in the budget the first time around? This was on council’s plate last year and the year previous.

“We voted to put it in the budget when I was on council. It is important and urgent, Mr. Mayor, just as it was two years ago. What happened to the equipment at only $18,000 being in the budget?

“Please address where the current council’s priorities are in terms of getting the hard-working Allentown Police Department the equipment they need in a timely fashion,” Schmitt wrote.

Municipal Clerk Laurie Roth responded to Schmitt’s comment by writing in part that “after Councilman Payson confirms with (the police chief) what the equipment specifications are, Councilman (Michael) Drennan will work with the chief financial officer to find the funding for this (equipment).”

Discussion of the matter ended at that time.

In other business, Fritts addressed traffic safety in Allentown and said it is “one of the most critical issues in the borough for the safety of residents, children and visitors.”

Municipal officials are working to enforce a local law that bans trucks on municipal roads, as well as regulations involving designated speed enforcement zones. Fritts said some administrative work is still required to address those issues.

Attorney Andrew Sobel, of the firm Sobel Han and Cannon, which represents Allentown, took note of the outstanding administrative issues and said they would be addressed.

Borough officials said changes in signs on nearby Interstate 195 have helped to direct some traffic away from Allentown’s downtown district.

Fritts said he is “hoping to move on these traffic initiatives in the next 60 days. These (traffic fixes) have to happen now. Traffic is very concerning.”