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Neighborhood Crime Watch
Police Chief Neal Ebbert
Neal is on the left, Council President Grant Hunsicker
is in the middle and Mayor Donnie Rehrig is on the right.
Since the inception of the Borough of Lehighton on 1866, there has been organized Police service in the Borough. Several records in the Lehighton Press indicated money being budgeted for Police Protection throughout the 1870’s and 1880’s. However, the first mention of a Chief of Police was in the March 9th, 1893 issue of the Lehighton Press in which William Weidaw was elected by Borough Council to the position of Chief of Police.
In the early years, the Lehighton Borough Police Officers provided night watchman services as well as being available during the daylight hours. A majority of the budget was used to fund additional police services during the Lehighton Fair. In those days, the Borough of Lehighton had a number of hotels, businesses as well as an active opera house which provided officers with several areas to protect.
Although there was a Lehighton Lockup listed on maps from 1875, the Lehighton Press reported that officers would take prisoners to the Weissport Lockup. From there, they would be transported to the Carbon County Jail, if they were unable to make bail.
In August 1892, three “tramps” were taken into custody for attempting to rob a clothing store owned by E.G. Zern on South First Street. These three had broken out of the Weissport Lockup previously and remained on the run. These criminals had been stopped and taken into custody by night watchman Michael Kressley of the Lehighton Police.
Tragedy struck the Lehighton Borough Police Department in April 1917, when Chief of Police William Swartz was shot and killed by a crazed man. While investigating threats made by the man to the local Justice of the Peace, Chief Swartz observed the man in the area of the Carbon Hotel (now the Bank of America). As Chief Swartz approached the man, he shot him in the chest. Chief Swartz left a widow and several children.
In 1937, then Chief of Police Harry “Jimmy” Yenser, reported to council the following annual police report from the year 1936: Major Investigations – 122, Minor Investigations – 356, Disorderly Conduct Arrests – 71, Auto Accidents Investigated – 50, Motor Violations – 16, Overnight Parking Warnings – 274, Larceny Arrests – 6, Petty Thievery – 15, Stolen Cars – 5, Gambling Places Padlocked – 3, Other Gambling Places Investigated – 17, Peddling Violations – 2, Assault and Battery – 1, Bad Check Passers – 2, Drunken Drivers – 4, Hit and Run – 2, Rape – 1, Malicious Mischief – 7, Immoral Case – 1, Desertion and Non-Support – 1, and Robbery – 5. (Source – The Lehighton Press, January 7th, 1937)
Tragedy struck the Lehighton Borough Police Department yet again when Chief Yenser died of a heart attack while working in 1947. He was found inside of his patrol car and was unable to be revived. Chief Yenser had been a 25 year veteran of the Lehighton Borough Police Department.
The Lehighton Borough Police Department had been housed in the Borough Building from 1936 until 2011. In 2011, the Lehighton Borough Police Department moved into the former Lehighton Fire Company building at 124 South Third Street. The building bears the name of former Lehighton Borough Mayor, William “Cap” Bauchspies.
The department currently has 9 full time Police Officers including a Criminal Investigator and a Chief of Police. The department also employs several part time officers, a police secretary and an administrative assistant.
In 2011, the Lehighton Borough Police Department handled 5,553 calls for service. The department handled 72 non injury traffic accidents, 16 traffic accidents with injury and 1 fatal traffic accident. The Lehighton Borough Police Department issued a total of 706 traffic citation for 2011. In addition, the department investigated 26 assaults (8 aggravated and 18 simple), 102 criminal mischief complaints, 28 DUI’s, 111 theft’s, 13 motor vehicle theft’s, among other offenses. The Lehighton Borough Police Department had a total of 276 criminal and non traffic arrests in 2011.