CANTON — More community members voiced complaints against Canton Borough Police Chief Doug Seeley and Administrator Amy Seeley, and the pair offered more comment, during a Canton Borough Council meeting Monday night.
Toward the beginning of the meeting, which drew large attendance, Attorney Zachary Gates spoke on behalf of the Seeleys addressing allegations brought against them in a September 8 edition of The Daily Review saying, “Doug and Amy will not occupy this body’s precious time serving the people with point-by-point rebuttals of the accusations, other than to say that they stand by their positions. I would also note that, likely due to space limitations, their responses to the allegations were not published in the newspaper in their entirety; therefore, the brevity of their published responses should not be viewed as somehow lending any credence to the criticisms lodged against them.”
“Should formal charges or complaints ever be filed against either or both of them, Mr. and Mrs. Seeley will respond appropriately, truthfully and in the manner of due process afforded them by law. Until such time, however, it is neither productive nor fruitful to litigate any grievance in the court of public opinion,” Gates commented.
Gates continued, stating that the Seeleys “asked (him) to provide two suggestions for the Council’s consideration” however, the first being that if an investigation of Doug be considered council is given an opportunity “to weigh in on the parameters and scope of such an investigation before the investigation commences” and any information regarding the investigation be discussed with council “with the advice of the Borough’s solicitor” before being released to “the press or any unaffiliated third party” and the second being that reasons given by employees in resignation letters or exit interviews be kept confidential “to the maximum extent possible” as the Seeleys feel “unapproved disclosure of a person’s reasons for leaving a position with the Borough may have a chilling effect on obtaining full candor from employees going forward.”
Gates clarified on behalf of the Seeleys that the couple feels even if a former employee releases their rights to disclose their reason for leaving, the entire council should decide if it can be released to the press or a third party, not a single councilperson.
In the visitor’s comment section that followed, multiple Canton residents made grievances against the Seeleys known.
Shawn Miller stated that he was once involved in an incident where one of his children were drinking underage at an apartment near Doug Seeleys’ home and attempted to drive, prompting Miller to call the police for help, which, according to him, Doug did not provide.
“We’re trying to get the police to work with us to help bring our children to understand right and wrong and that you can’t get away with this, you’re not untouchable and instead I’ve had a girl spiral down the wrong path,” he said.
Miller also questioned the hiring of former Canton officer Joshua Gleco, stating that he had a criminal record prior to being hired at the Canton Borough Police Department and claiming that he has had to spend money serving Doug a subpoena to receive reports regarding incidents including Gleco that involve his family.
Another Canton resident, who asked that their name be withheld from publication, explained that their child both uses and deals drugs in Canton and claimed that they’ve asked Doug for help numerous times to no avail.
The resident also claimed that during one trip made to the police department they overheard Amy tell Doug that if the resident talked to her again she would “slap her.”
“I’ve talked to Doug many times to ask him for help. I’ve got none,” the resident shared. “When are we going to get somebody in this department to do something about everything that happens in this town? It’s not going to happen with those two.”
Todd Hartsch, another Canton citizen, alleged that he had lost $93,000 due to Doug’s failure to charge a contractor who never completed work on a property he owns.
Doug stated that Hartsch only waited 13 days to take civil action, which cancelled any criminal charges and that that amount of time was not sufficient to conduct an investigation.
Hartsch also stated that he has seen “over 100” negative comments about borough officials, including the police Chief, on a Facebook page his family used to conduct and has been told by both Mayor Richard Porter and Borough President David Groover not to have Amy sign charges he wishes to file as “it would get lost.”
“So there’s a problem there and something needs to be done...the perception of the people is yours to change, not theirs to change,” he commented, adding that “people believe that the Administrator has four people on council that she has promised things to or owes favors by or is friends of.”
“I’m not here to tell you what your jobs are, everybody here knows their jobs, I’m just asking you to do them,” he continued. “Because it’s right and because it’s what you were elected for. Take the friendship out of it, take the favors out of it, and take what is perceived by at least half of Canton.”
After Canton Borough Solicitor David Brann read complaints made to the borough from Canton Borough Codes Enforcement Officer John Raub and community member Michael Shultz regarding work that has been or they believe should be completed to borough properties, councilman Chris Schrader stated that he believes those complaints are more acts of retaliation due to Groover speaking out against the Seeleys (Groover has served as the only acting Canton street employee for seven months.)
“This is an obvious form of retaliation,” Schrader said, claiming that Amy has made remarks to and about Groover in his presence during and after he left a recent street department meeting that Schrader feels are retaliatory, “discrediting and defamatory” against Groover as well.
“I’m also going to mention that I’ve heard from outside agencies including Owlett’s office that they’ve had issues with the administrator as well as people having problems with the police Chief,” Schrader stated.
Schrader told meeting attendees that a Canton Borough ordinance states that police officers must retire at age 50 after 25 years of consecutive service unless the borough council approves a longer term, which he stated that they had not, though Brann stated that as 25 years have passed since the ordinance would have gone into effect regarding Seeley, council’s lack of action to remove him may serve as an approval of continued service.
Schrader motioned to abolish the Borough Administrator position that Amy currently holds. The movement was tabled until council has the opportunity to research what responsibilities the role of administrator holds.
Schrader also asked if an official investigation has been started regarding Doug’s alleged improper destruction of drugs and drug paraphernalia, to which Groover stated that he did not know.
Schrader motioned to remove Doug from the role of Canton Borough Police Chief on the ground of “inefficiency at the very least”. The motion fell with no second, but council members stated that they would revisit the discussion in a police committee meeting.