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Analysis of Hellertown Police Department Highlights Areas of Deficiency

According to a newly released 40+ page report, the Hellertown Police Department “suffered from a lack of leadership” and was “handicapped by a lack of depth in the numbers of officers, requiring excessive use of overtime and compensatory time to ensure desired coverage.” 


Among other deficiencies identified by the extensive report, the review found “the Policy Manual had not been updated on a regular basis for more than 20 years and did not include numerous recommended and statutorily required directives.”


Back in October 2023, Saucon Voice was one of the first organizations to report on then Chief Robert Shupp’s abrupt resignation from the Hellertown Police Department. We also reported on the fact that this was not the first police chief to leave amid controversy. In December of 2023, former police chief Robert Shupp was formally charged.


In February of 2024, during a regularly scheduled Hellertown Borough Council meeting, it was then revealed that the Borough of Hellertown was “currently conducting an assessment of the police department by an outside group called the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.”


On Wednesday, May 8, 2024, the Borough of Hellertown, via its official Facebook page and a press release, provided the complete 40+ page report for the public to view.


From the press release:


“The report, frankly, doesn’t paint a pretty picture of the department in its current state. It is impossible to fix problems until you understand them fully, and this report allows Borough Council to more fully understand the problems within the police department.”


The press release goes on to state that while Borough Council “has already started to address some of the leadership issues discovered in the report”, that “there are no quick fixes” to the problems nor “easy answers.”


The 40+ page report, which can be downloaded below, goes on to review and assess the Hellertown Police Department. The assessment methodology encompassed a thorough examination through interviews, surveys, document analyses, and on-site observations.


Some of the key findings of the report include:


  1. Leadership Vacuum: The department has grappled with a significant absence of effective leadership, particularly due to the former Chief's hands-off approach. This has resulted in a leadership void, which, though partially filled by senior officers stepping up, has neglected crucial executive-level responsibilities.

  2. Staffing Challenges: A pressing concern for the department lies in its staffing shortages. These shortages have forced the department to rely heavily on overtime and compensatory time to ensure operational coverage. Not only does this strain the budget, but it also takes a toll on officers, affecting their personal lives.

  3. Outdated Policies: The Department's Policy Manual has remained stagnant for over two decades, lacking essential updates and revisions. Many existing directives within the manual are outdated or insufficient. As a result, there's a pressing need for a comprehensive overhaul to align with contemporary professional standards.

  4. Supervisory Shortfall: Another critical issue highlighted is the scarcity of supervisory resources. The recommendation to add four supervisor positions aims to alleviate the burden on the Chief and enhance day-to-day operational efficiency. Additionally, this move would enable the Chief to focus more on executive-level responsibilities.

  5. Facility Inadequacies: The current police headquarters are deemed inadequate, with plans for relocation being deferred. The report underscores the potential negative impact of the subpar working environment on the department's workforce.

  6. Interconnected Deficiencies: Several systemic issues, including organizational oversight, supervision, policies, budgetary allocations, and scheduling, have contributed to the department's challenges.

  7. Paths to Improvement: The report outlines various options for the Mayor and Borough Council to consider, ranging from reducing services to investing in the department for enhanced professionalism and effectiveness.

You can review the full report yourself by clicking below to download the PDF file.

Download PDF • 1.17MB

The Borough of Hellertown will hold a special meeting on Monday, May 13, 2024 beginning at 7:00 PM at Borough Hall in order to allow residents to be part of the discussion on the report and the state of the police department in Hellertown.



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