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Community Reacts to Wilkes-Barre Police Chief Retiring

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- It was in an abrupt announcement from the city of Wilkes-Barre that the police chief is stepping down.

The mayor's office sent out word of Chief Marcella Lendacky's retirement Wednesday afternoon.

After less than three years as the Wilkes-Barre Police chief, Chief Marcella Lendacky is stepping down.

The mayor's office made the announcement in a brief statement, saying after 29 years with the department, Chief Lendacky will retire on June 3.

No reason was given for why the chief was retiring, but this move comes after a scathing independent review of the chief's handling of the department found her to be lacking the qualifications for effective leadership.

“I feel like if she's retiring, that's kind of admitting guilt,” said Mark Feig.

At Anthracite Newstand, workers were surprised with the news.

“In my own opinion, I thought that she was doing a pretty good job,” said owner Ann Marie Bossard.

City council was asked by the police union to investigate the department's leadership after the head of the police union was suspended and the vice president fired, which the union saw as punishment for complaints the two made.

The union called this action retaliatory and is now suing the city.

Bossard says rifts like this hurt morale in the workplace.

“Yeah, sure it does, you need team back-up,” said Bossard. “Everybody needs a team. If I didn't have the group that I have and such a great team, the Anthracite would fail.”

City council paid $26,000 to the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police to review the running of the department.

City officials say it found the chief unfit to do her job.

“It's good to know that somebody caught on to it and that she's going to step down and that they're hopefully going to replace her with somebody that will do their job properly,” said Joe Pashia, the general manager of Center City Repairs.

However, the report is not being made public until it's reviewed by the city solicitor.

“I think all that should be made public to all the taxpayers,” said Bossard.

The city says the reason the report isn't being made public yet is to make sure there is no personal information in it.

The Wilkes-Barre Police Benevolent Association issued the following statement:

"Statement Regarding Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association Report

The Wilkes-Barre Police Benevolent Association obviously agrees with an overwhelming majority of the findings of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.

Many of the concerns and issues with our department’s leadership raised by this well respected, independent agency have been made public by our association prior to Chief Lendacky’s appointment in 2016.

The PBA thanks city council, as well as Mayor George and his administration, for commissioning this assessment of our department.

Our biggest regret is tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars was spent not only on this study, but unnecessary labor costs.

Now our focus is renewed cooperation with the mayor, city council and future police leadership.  The goal of our association continues to be working to ensure the safety of our residents, and those who visit or work in the City of Wilkes-Barre."

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