Bedford Borough hired the former warden of the Bedford County Correctional Facility as a full-time police officer during its meeting Monday night.
Council approved the hiring of Troy Nelson to fill the vacant full-time officer position with the Bedford Police Department, less than three months after Nelson’s tenure leading the county jail ended following an investigation into the operations at the facility by the county commissioners and the state Department of Corrections.
Police Chief Craig Bowman after the meeting said he inquired with county officials about the investigation to determine whether Nelson could continue to work with the department.
“No one from the county provided anything that would prevent him from continuing to work as a police officer,” Bowman said.
Council did not discuss the recommendation during the meeting Monday night prior to voting unanimously to approve it.
Bowman said Nelson has worked as a part-time police officer for the department since 2011, and had continued to work part time after his employment ended with the county.
Nelson and Deputy Warden Rocky Bernazzoli were suspended from their posts with the county on Nov. 30 at the start of the investigation by the county commissioners and the DOC. The commissioners in January announced both Nelson and Bernazzoli, as well as Deputy Warden Jason Moore, were no longer employed with the county following the investigation.
The county has not specified what led to the organizational review at the facility or its findings, other than stating in a news release that it was “prompted by an employment investigation performed in September.”
Capt. Joseph Eichenlaub from SCI Smithfield in Huntingdon County is serving as the acting warden at the jail. The county commissioners during a prison board meeting last month said they aim to find a permanent replacement by May.
Nelson will earn about $42,000 per year as a full-time officer with the borough. His employment is pending completion of a background check and physical/psychological evaluations.
The department will have five full-time police officers with the addition of Nelson, as well as three part-time officers. Bowman noted those part-time officers work minimal hours.
Bowman said he will evaluate coverage once the department is fully staffed to determine whether he will seek to hire an additional part-time officer to replace the spot previously served by Nelson.
In separate action, borough council discussed its ordinance regarding skateboarding in the borough.
Bowman said the borough received a number of phone calls last week regarding rumors of a change in the borough’s skateboarding ordinance. Council speculated those rumors stemmed from social media discussions.
“To be clear, there has been no change in the borough’s ordinances,” Councilman Patrick Neff said.
But council is looking to clarify its policies on skateboarding. The borough’s ordinance currently prohibits skateboards on sidewalks and streets in the “business district,” a zone Borough Manager Barbara Diehl said hasn’t been used in the borough’s code since 2011.
Council discussed the possibility of prohibiting skateboard on all sidewalks in the borough, but would permit skateboards on all streets during daylight hours.
“I think everyone has the right to use the road,” Councilman Tim Weaverling said.
Diehl expressed concerns about some skateboards acting recklessly on certain streets. Bowman noted that borough police can pursue criminal charges if a skateboarder is acting recklessly, regardless of borough ordinances about skateboard use.
Council’s three-member ordinance committee will work to develop a new proposed ordinance regarding skateboard use that would be presented to council for approval.
Neff, a member of the committee, said the group will work with the preliminary recommendations to ban skateboards on all borough sidewalks, but to permit them on roads during daylight hours.