City Council voices pick for chief
Capt. Glenn Granitz Jr. is favored. Mayor O’Connell will announce his choice today.
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]
Captain Glenn Granitz Jr. greets Hasshan Batts, the director of operations for Promise Neighborhood Lehigh Valley, in June at an anti-violence rally.