Lehigh Valley

New Lower Saucon police chief a lifelong resident

Thomas Barndt joined force in 1990

LOWER SAUCON TWP., Pa. - Sgt. Thomas Barndt, a career-long member of the Lower Saucon Township Police Department, will become its chief, effective Monday.

Barndt accepted the post after Lower Saucon Township Council Wednesday night presented his salary of $93,400 and benefits package that includes health insurance, pension, five weeks’ vacation, three personal days, 13 holidays and eight sick days. He will be sworn in at council’s Feb. 7 meeting.

Township manager Leslie Huhn, who directed solicitor B. Lincoln Treadwell to draw up a contract, said Barndt, after an extensive search process, showed that he had the “character and traits” to lead the department and serve the residents of Lower Saucon Township.

A lifelong township resident, Barndt, 53, is a 1982 graduate of Saucon Valley High School and a 1990 graduate of the Allentown Police Academy. He joined the Lower Saucon Township Police Department in December 1990 and was promoted to corporal in 2007. Over the course of his career, Barndt has served as dispatcher, firearms instructor, field training officer and investigator.

As chief of police, he will oversee 13 full-time and six part-time officers, and one civilian staff member.

In an interview outside council chambers, Barndt, with a broad smile, said public service has been in his blood since he was a teenager. He joined Se-Wy-Co Fire Co. when he was 14 and eventually served as its assistant chief for 19 years and chief for 12 years.

“I have a love for Lower Saucon Township,” he said.

Barndt said he was one of 51 candidates from a nationwide search for chief of police, which was conducted by a panel made up of members of council, residents and the police association. John Scruggs of Matrix Consulting Group, who became interim police chief after the retirement last September of longtime police Chief Guy Lesser, helped manage the interview process.

Barndt said he will outline his vision and goals for the department at council’s Feb. 7 meeting.

In other matters, township staff will investigate the cost to be an intervener in Adelphia Gateway’s plan to convert its existing oil pipeline to transport natural gas. Adelphia filed its application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last Friday, according to a document posted on the township’s website. The 34-mile northern section of the pipeline extends from Bucks County to Northampton County and crosses through Lower Saucon.

Council member Priscilla deLeon, concerned about potential risks associated with the company’s request, called for a motion to enter the township as intervener on Adelphia’s application with FERC. She said the move does not put the township in the position of supporting or opposing the plan but allows it to ask questions of FERC as the process unfolds.

Her motion died for lack of a second, but the costs and requirements to become an intervener will be explored.

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