The patrol division is the backbone of any police department. All other functions are built around supporting the patrol officer. The officers are the most visible representatives of the department, their municipality and government in general.
The division is led by a Lieutenant, who is responsible for the functions of the division as a whole. The normal day to day operations are supervised by a Sergeant, Corporal or in their absence the senior patrol officer.
Their normal duties are three fold; responding to calls, patrolling and traffic enforcement. Officers respond to calls for service based on geographical districts. When the primary district officer is not available, the dispatchers will send other available units. If there are multiple calls at once they are prioritized based on danger to life, crimes in progress and then calls for which a report needs to be taken.
When not on an active call, officers patrol their district remaining vigilant for crimes in progress, suspicious behavior and people who may need assistance.
Traffic enforcement is important in reducing injury accidents, and enforcement is usually directed to places where multiple accidents have occurred. Many times a simple traffic stop can lead to much more; such as a wanted person, stolen items, illegal weapons, drugs, etc.
Many officers also have secondary duties such as; Field Training Officer, Accident Reconstruction, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, Warrant Officer, Emergency Response Team (SWAT), and Child Seat Technician.
The officers of the Whitehall Bureau of Police remain dedicated to the safety of the residents and visitors to the Township of Whitehall.
The K9 officer(s) are a part of the patrol division. Their responsibilities are the same as the regular officers, with some notable exceptions.
Although the K9 teams respond to normal calls for service, they cannot transport anyone in their specially equipped vehicles. The back seats are removed and a crate is installed in its place. The vehicles are also equipped with sensors which alert the handler if the temperature inside the vehicle becomes dangerous to the dog. The K9’s stay with their handler during off hours; and when a dog or a handler retires, the township will sell the dog to the handler for a minimal fee, as the bond is too tight to separate them.
All Whitehall K9’s are trained for regular patrol duties; such as building searches, crowd control and suspect apprehension. Our K9 partners can thoroughly search a large building much faster than a team of officers can. The K9 accomplishes this by searching for the odor of an intruder. They are trained to track suspects and missing people and can also be used for evidence recovery. Each dog has a secondary specialty such as drug detection, explosive detection or being trained to assist the Lehigh County Municipal Emergency Response Team (SWAT).
Pennsylvania law recognizes certified K9’s the same as their human partners. Assaulting a K9 draws the same enhanced penalties, and there is also a statute which makes it illegal to taunt a police dog.
The K9 unit is a great asset to the department both in patrol duties and public relations. If you would like to have a K9 team perform a demonstration, please come to the Whitehall Police Headquarters or fill out a request form located on the Forms & Documents page.
Police officers are required by state law to investigate all accidents which result in injuries due to the accident and/or any of the vehicles are damaged to the point that towing would be required to move them.
All officers are trained to investigate the vast majority of accidents. However when an accident has resulted in a fatality, or someone is critically injured and there is a possibility they might die, specially trained officers will take over the investigation.
Reconstruction officers go through three levels of training. The courses concentrate heavily on physics and are extremely math intensive. They also cover topics such as scene photography, mapping, evidence collection and courtroom testimony.
Accident reconstruction is a very long process, as each accident is very different. Reconstructionists must consult with the Lehigh County District Attorney and Coroners offices, interview witnesses, family members and hospital staff when applicable. They may also need to contact vehicle manufacturers, specialists in specific aspects of accident investigation, and prepare multiple search warrants.
When an accident is assigned to the reconstruction team they may need to be taken off their regular patrol duties for a time in order to concentrate on the investigation. It is not unusual for a reconstruction to take up to a year or more.