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Date last updated: Wednesday, March 27, 11:50 PST


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'Guardian angel' gives new squad, vests to Pa. police


By Jim Dino
The Pottsville Republican & Evening Herald

WEST HAZLETON, Pa. — The West Hazleton Police Department is getting a new police cruiser and four bulletproof vests thanks to a $42,180 check from a "guardian angel."

West Hazleton Mayor Frank Schmidt said the kind gesture came after a complaint Friday morning.

"The thing the person was complaining about, I told them, I couldn't do anything about," Schmidt said. "As we were talking, the subject of senior citizens came up, and how afraid some of them are to leave their homes."

Then the topic of police was mentioned, and the donor asked how the department was getting along. Schmidt said council members will discuss during their next meeting whether to buy or lease a new cruiser, because the borough needs one.

"Then they said, 'I am going to buy you a car.' I am thinking to myself, this person does not know how much a police car is," Schmidt said. "They said, 'Stop by sometime, and we'll talk about it.' "

Schmidt said he contacted police Chief Brian Buglio to gather paperwork that showed the cost of the new cruiser. The mayor said he and the police chief would be free after this Tuesday to meet.

The donor called back.

"I told them we could meet with them anytime after Tuesday," Schmidt said. "But they said, 'We want to meet today.' "

Schmidt called Buglio back, and they went to meet with the donor.

"They wanted to know if the cruiser came with a computer," Schmidt said. "They wanted the best, and asked what it will cost. The chief told them $39,000. They asked how our bulletproof vests are. They expire after awhile. The chief said we need four new ones. They said 'Tack them on, and add it all up.' Then, he wrote out a check for $42,180. I had tears in my eyes."

Buglio said it will take 90 to 120 days for the new cruiser to come in. Once it gets to the dealer, it will be outfitted with all of the police equipment, including sirens, lights and computer.

The new Dodge Charger is needed, Buglio said, because the borough's two 2008 Chargers each have 80,000 miles. The vests will take about three weeks to come in because they are custom-fitted for each officer, Buglio said.

There was a caveat to the donation.

"There is one condition," the mayor quoted the donor. "That no one knows who gave you this money. I don't want anybody to know."

Schmidt suggested the donor be referred to as the borough's "guardian angel."

"The donor liked that," Schmidt said. "They said, 'Call me the guardian angel.'

"They said to me, 'I know you're trying, mayor, you're doing a good job. And the police chief is doing a good job. I just want to help.'"

The mayor said the gesture renewed his faith in humanity.

"There are still some good people around," Schmidt said. "The only way I can thank them is to say, God bless them." 

Copyright 2013 The Pottsville Republican & Evening Herald, Pottsville, PA




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