Outrage Over Police Chief Possibly Being Replaced

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DALTON -- The uncertain status of a police chief’s future with the borough of Dalton in Lackawanna County had residents outraged at Thursday night's council meeting.

Council members said Police Chief Chris Tolson’s contract expires at the end of the month and he must reapply for his job.

However the chief’s supporters said Tolson has filed a lawsuit against the Dalton Fire Company and council is playing dirty politics.

“You tried to get rid of three police chiefs in the last 30 years, and you know you lost every time, you’re worse than Clark Summit,” yelled one resident at the Dalton Borough Council.

“We need to replace most of you up there!” yelled another.

The meeting room inside the Dalton Fire Company’s building exploded as tempers and emotions flared during the Dalton Borough Council meeting.

Dozens of residents came to voice their anger over the potential loss of their current Police Chief.

“He is a good chief, he’s a good officer. He was my sergeant when I was here as chief of police, he did a fine job, he knows the community,” said former Dalton Police Chief James Gray, who also served as the borough’s mayor.

Council said Tolson’s contract as police chief is set to expire at the end of the year.

Council is currently interviewing candidates and said the chief has reapplied for the job. They said Tolson is not losing his job with the police department; Tolson will either be rehired as chief or resume his former role as sergeant.

“Opening up a position for multiple interviews when you already have a capable person, performing that job,” said resident Jim Doughert.

But Tolson’s supporters said council is trying to remove the chief because Tolson is suing the fire department.

The chief’s office is in the basement of the fire house which has been hit by flooding. Tolson's attorney said the chief and others have gotten sick because of mold that has formed there, and since it's the fire company's building, the fire company is responsible.

“He reports to work, but he’s got respiratory problems,” said Gray. “We have an officer that was full time, Steven Hall, he left because of that problem.”

“Everything was hunky dory until he decided to file a lawsuit against the fire company because of a mold problem that they do have downstairs but say they don’t have,” said Susan Davidson, a former Dalton council member.

The Dalton Fire Company is in the process of renovating those basement offices to prevent future flooding. It's estimated to cost around $100,000 to do so.

It is unclear when council will name a police chief in Dalton.