BUTLER TOWNSHIP – The Butler Township Trustees voted to appoint Rob Streck, Chief Deputy of the Montgomery County Sheriff, as Acting Police Chief at the end of a contentious meeting Monday evening.
The vote was split 2-1 as expected with Trustees Nick Brusky and Joe Flanagan voting in favor and Trustee President Mike Lang voting against. The Board also placed Police Chief John Cresie on paid administrative leave pending his retirement date of January 19.
Lang was in favor of appointing Lt. Chris Guthrie as Acting Chief.
A standing room only crowd of around 100 people gathered at the Township Hall, and it appeared a majority were supportive of Chief Cresie and opposed to the appointment of Streck. A few vocal supporters did, however, applaud Flanagan and Sheriff Phil Plummer when they spoke.
While an executive session was expected to discuss the appointment, Flanagan and Brusky decided it wasn’t necessary.
Video of the debate over who to appoint as acting police chief is here:
“We have Lt. Guthrie, who is a beginning Lieutenant, as one option,” said Flanagan. “Would he be considered as chief if we get to that point? Probably. That’s all I can say at this point. The person we have is the Chief Deputy of Montgomery County. He can come in here, reorganize the department, hopefully make it a better department, for whoever the chief is that comes in next. Asfar as I’m concerned, the only candidate for that is the Chief Deputy of Montgomery County.”
Lang noted the support that Guthrie has among the ranks while acknowledging that he had not been a Lieutenant very long.
“Certainly he (Guthrie) has not been a Lieutenant for 15 years but he was a sergeant before that with supervisory experience,” said Lang. “More importantly, he has the support of a core group of officers and has the capabilities to do thee job. It makes sense for him to be the interim chief.”
“I think its appropriate that we have someone come in from the outside in interim until we identify a quality candidate, which may be Lt. Guthrie,” said Brusky. “The department is in better hands under the interim chief from the Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff is the highest, most powerful elected office in this county, and he answers to 450,000 voters. His office was founded before our Constitutional form of government and goes back to the days of the Magna Carta. The professionalism in that department, we would never be able to get a chief of Chief Deputy Streck’s caliber.”
Plummer, a resident of Butler Township, was critical of Cresie and political environment during the formal meeting.
“Enough is enough,” said Plummer. “You guys were elected, and we all voted for you. Let’s get down to business and provide the services for the taxpayers.”
Plummer said that he would “raise the bar of professionalism” in the department, a statement Cresie took issue with.
“These guys (officers) have put their heart and soul into making this department a professional organization and I would say the bar is raised pretty godda** high already,” said Cresie.
Cresie was moved by the show of support from people who came to the podium to thank him.
“I want to thank the officers in the department who worked their heart out to make this a better place to work and to make Butler Township a safer place,” said Cresie. “We have some outstanding officers. I also want to thank the residents. I came from out of town, and didn’t know anyone. The community took me in, accepted me, and worked with me to make Butler Township safer through neighborhood watches and other ways. I was touched by their support.”