Archive for category Bethlehem

Who’s the Real Hero, Bar Bouncer or Cop?

Posted by Lehigh Valley Ramblings.

On August 11, 2011, Freemansburg police officer Robert Lasso was killed in the line of duty, while responding to a domestic disturbance. He suffered a shotgun blast to the face.  While a distraught Freemansburg Chief of Police subdued the shooter, a highly decorated Bethlehem police officer was the first to arrive on the scene. He tried to save Lasso’s life, repeatedly administering CPR. But he was too late. Lasso succumbed.

Maybe he blames himself for not being fast enough. I don’t know the guy. But what I do know is that almost two years later to the day, this Bethlehem police officer was despondent about the Lasso tragedy. He tried to cheer himself up with a concert and the company of other police officers. He medicated himself the best way he knew – with alcohol.

The result was an off-duty drunk driving accident with no injuries. In fact, the accident happened partially because this officer mistakenly thought he saw a pedestrian, and swerved.

That officer is Richard Hoffman, the very person being crucified before Bethlehem City Council. Council never heard the Lasso story. Nor do they know of Hoffman’s commendations.

I sat in stunned amazement on Monday night when Karen Dolan told a bar bouncer at Molly’s Grille that he was “quite heroic.”

I understand that Molly’s is an after-Council hangout, but bar bouncers are no heroes. Sorry.

The real heroes are the men and women out there who will aid a battered spouse, assist a stranded motorist, help a lost child or try to save someone’s life. The cops. The firefighters. EMTs.  The police officer who consoles a five-year old crying boy whose mother has just been shot by his own father.

When Northampton County DA John Morganelli recently proposed establishing a mental health court, he pointed out the special needs of veterans, who put everything on the line for us. We recognize their sacrifices and the stress they suffer as a result of serving in a hostile environment.

But we seem to have no sympathy for the police officer, who puts his life on the line every time he wears that uniform. He sees all the pain and misery in what can be a very cruel world, and it’s no secret that many police officers and other first responders end up suffering from the same post-traumatic stress that we now recognize as a problem in the military.

I spoke to a long-time Bethlehem police officer who is also a veteran yesterday. He told me that, overall, service as a police officer is more stressful than the military. What makes things even worse is that most departments are ill-equipped to deal with officers in distress.

What might help Bethlehem and other police departments is mandatory counseling after stressful events. If they are involved in a homicide, it’s bound to effect them. But most cops would rather die than ask for help. They would consider that a sign of weakness. That’s why it really should be mandatory.

“This is a human being,” Wade Haubert reminded Council on Monday night. Police officers themselves need to be reminded of that from time to time.

Four men charged in Northampton County meth ring

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office investigated the sale of the drug between September and February, according to court records.

Four men have been charged with distributing methamphetamine
in Northampton County
from September to earlier this month, according to a Pennsylvania Attorney
General’s Office investigation.

Arraigned today before District Judge Jacqueline Taschner
were Frank Paul Papasso Jr., 53, of the 3600 block of Kelchner
Street in Bethlehem Township,
; Jason Edward Smith, 37, of Tobyhanna,
Pa.; John James Anklam, 46, of the 2300
block of Fourth Street in Wilson
; and Eric Scott Youngkin, 43, of the 2800 block John
Street in Palmer

Court records say the men sold methamphetamine to confidential
informants and at least Papasso and Smith came clean to investigators about
their criminal activity.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office was leading the investigation,
which court records say began in Sept. 24 with the purchase of 3.5 grams of
meth from Youngkin and Anklam. Investigators say during some of the subsequent
purchases — in both the Easton and Bethlehem
areas — authorities were able to observe the defendants meeting with Papasso to
obtain the drugs.

On Dec. 13, authorities served a search warrant at Papasso’s Bethlehem
Township home, court papers say.
They allegedly found a quarter-pound of marijuana and 4 grams of methamphetamine
as well as the materials used to distribute drugs. Papasso waived his Miranda
rights and spoke with police, court records say, admitting that he’d been
involved in sales of crystal methamphetamine in the county.

Court papers say authorities continued to monitor the
purchase of drugs in late December and early February. Smith was contacted Feb.
4, court records say, and he, too, waived his Miranda rights, opting to speak
with police about the activity.

Smith allegedly told authorities he’d been selling meth and
marijuana and led them to where he was keeping the drugs — a unit at the
Nazareth Self Storage facility, 173 Nazareth Pike in Lower Nazareth Township.
Inside the unit, investigators say they found 820 grams of marijuana and items
used for distribution.

Court records say all four men have been charged with three
counts of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance, two
counts of conspiracy and one count each of operation of a corrupt organization
and criminal use of a communication facility.

Bail was set at $500,000 for Smith, $100,000 for Anklam,
$50,000 for Youngkin and $100,000 unsecured for Papasso.