City Council voices pick for chief

Capt. Glenn Granitz Jr. is fa­vored. Mayor O’Con­nell will an­nounce his choice to­day.

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - By An­drew Waga­man

Al­len­town Mayor Ray O’Con­nell on Wed­nes­day morn­ing will name an in­terim po­lice chief and nom­i­nate that per­son for the per­ma­nent job.

O’Con­nell will hold a news con­fer­ence at 11 a.m. in City Council cham­bers to an­nounce his choice. Council mem­bers say Capt. Glenn Granitz Jr., who leads the Cen­ter City pla­toon, is the most likely choice, and a ma­jor­ity voiced sup­port for his nom­i­na­tion.

This will be the city’s fifth po­lice chief in four years and O’Con­nell’s sec­ond chief pick since he was ap­pointed in­terim mayor in March 2018. In­terim Chief Tony Al­sleben, whom O’Con­nell nom­i­nated for the per­ma­nent po­si­tion in Au­gust, left the depart­ment Fri­day.

Ac­cord­ing to mul­ti­ple coun

cil mem­bers, O’Con­nell this month in­ter­viewed the depart­ment’s six po­lice cap­tains for the chief po­si­tion. They con­sider Granitz the front-run­ner.

Granitz lives in the city and is a fa­mil­iar face at neigh­bor­hood watch meet­ings and com­mu­nity events. Crit­ics of the depart­ment have fre­quently cited Granitz as their de­sired suc­ces­sor, and have cir­cu­lated a pe­ti­tion call­ing for his pro­mo­tion.

A ma­jor­ity of council mem­bers have said they would vote in fa­vor of his con­fir­ma­tion.

Coun­cil­man Ed Zu­cal, a for­mer Al­len­town po­lice of­fi­cer, has said the force’s rank-and-file re­spects Granitz’s lead­er­ship abil­i­ties and his will­ing­ness to hit the streets.

“This man has the re­spect of the peo­ple,” Coun­cil­woman Cyn­thia Mota added last month. “He knows how to lis­ten, and when he does say things, things get done. He has a big heart and he loves this city.”

Granitz, 40, is an 18-year vet­eran of the force who was pro­moted to cap­tain in Au­gust 2017. Prior to that, he served as a lieu­tenant for 16 months and de­tec­tive sergeant with the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tions Division for about six years.

Coun­cil­woman Can­dida Affa said Mon­day that she be­lieves much of the crit­i­cism lev­eled against Al­sleben was un­fair, and fears the com­mu­nity will have un­rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tions of Granitz. But she also said the praise for Granitz is war­ranted.

“Glenn’s a hell of a guy, and he’s got all of the pluses,” she said. “We need some­one who will lead the depart­ment for more than just a year or two, and I think he’s here to stay.”

Coun­cil­man Court­ney Robin­son said that since O’Con­nell ini­tially nom­i­nated Al­sleben for the per­ma­nent po­si­tion in early Au­gust, he’s re­ceived much more com­mu­nity feed­back on who de­serves the po­si­tion than on any other is­sue dur­ing his 21 months on council, in­clud­ing this year’s 27% prop­erty tax in­crease.

“Never have I seen such over­whelm­ing, cross­over sup­port for a can­di­date as I’ve seen for Granitz,” Robin­son said Tues­day. “And per­son­ally, I think he’s the best per­son to lead the depart­ment.”

Council Vice Pres­i­dent Julio Guridy and Coun­cil­man Daryl Hen­dricks also said Tues­day that Granitz has their votes if O’Con­nell nom­i­nates him.

Council Pres­i­dent Roger MacLean, who led the po­lice depart­ment from 2006 to 2013, de­clined to com­ment ahead of O’Con­nell’s an­nounce­ment.

Al­sleben faced am­pli­fy­ing crit­i­cism over a vi­o­lent sum­mer from some council mem­bers, com­mu­nity or­ga­niz­ers and other res­i­dents. Nearly 30 peo­ple were shot in Al­len­town in June and July, and Al­sleben’s crit­ics said they wanted a bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tor and more vis­i­ble leader.

O’Con­nell de­cided in early Au­gust that the time was right for Al­sleben to shed his in­terim sta­tus as chief, giv­ing council the op­por­tu­nity to vote in midSeptem­ber on his con­fir­ma­tion. O’Con­nell vowed to sup­port Al­sleben at the con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing, but a ma­jor­ity of council mem­bers made it known that they would re­ject his nom­i­na­tion.

In an­nounc­ing his res­ig­na­tion Aug. 12, Al­sleben said he was proud of what the force ac­com­plished un­der his lead­er­ship, but that the con­tentious­ness over his nom­i­na­tion has “be­come an un­needed and di­vi­sive dis­trac­tion at a time when it is crit­i­cal the City be united, and the Depart­ment re­main fo­cused on its mis­sion.”

Lead­ers of Al­len­town’s po­lice union sup­ported Al­sleben and de­fended him at an Au­gust council meet­ing. Union Pres­i­dent Scott Sny­der hasn’t said whom he sup­ports as the next chief or what qual­i­fi­ca­tions he’d like the next leader to pos­sess.

The se­lec­tion comes less than two months ahead of a may­oral and council elec­tion. O’Con­nell faces Re­pub­li­can Tim Ramos in the may­oral race. Ramos has also ex­pressed sup­port for Granitz.

Morn­ing Call re­porter An­drew Waga­man can be reached at 610-820-6764 or awaga­[email protected]

MADELEINE COOK/THE MORN­ING CALL

Cap­tain Glenn Granitz Jr. greets Hasshan Batts, the di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions for Prom­ise Neigh­bor­hood Le­high Val­ley, in June at an anti-vi­o­lence rally.

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