New Hamburg police chief to focus on community policing

Hamburg’s new Mayor George Holmes, left, who started in January, and new Hamburg Borough Police Chief Anthony M. Kuklinski, who started Feb. 27, aim to make police more visible in the community and improve communication with the public.
Hamburg’s new Mayor George Holmes, left, who started in January, and new Hamburg Borough Police Chief Anthony M. Kuklinski, who started Feb. 27, aim to make police more visible in the community and improve communication with the public. Lisa Mitchell - Digital First Media

New Hamburg Borough Police Chief Anthony M. Kuklinski brings a focus on community policing to Hamburg.

Kuklinski replaces former Police Chief Pedro Rivera, who served as chief for five years until Borough Council voted on Dec. 26, 2017, not to extend his contract. Hamburg Borough Council voted 5-0 on Feb. 26 to hire Kuklinski, former police chief in Auburn, Cass Township and Spring City, respectively, as well as the current chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Douglass Township, Montgomery County.

He was sworn in at the Feb. 26 council meeting and immediately began serving as Hamburg police chief the following day.

“Council is looking to go in a new direction,” said Hamburg’s new Mayor George Holmes, who was sworn in January 2018 with a goal of helping the community. Retired military, Holmes and his wife moved from Wayne Township, Schuylkill County, to Hamburg two years ago and opened a bed and breakfast in January.

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“(Council) wants to see more community policing. They want to see more information flow between the public and the police. They want to see that those interactions that go on everyday are visible to the public,” said Holmes about hiring a new police chief.

“The police are part of the community,” said Kuklinski. “While the police are an enforcement branch of the local government, the officers need to get out and have a focus on what is in the best interest of our community, address issues in a small town that are quality of life issues.”

Kuklinski said officers need to make themselves readily accessible to the public. His goal is make sure Hamburg police officers are more visible in the community and provide more information to residents.

“When people come to town, folks come into a community, what they look for are my streets going to be plowed, is my trash going to be pulled, and are my kids going to be safe, are the schools good,” said Kuklinski. “If you have all four of those things are great, you’re going to have a great community because that’s the basis of municipal services.”

Kuklinski has more than 30 years of experience in police work and describes himself as a small-town kind of guy with a lot of knowledge of the criminal justice system.

“This is the most rewarding job you will ever have,” he said with a smile. “I have a need for public service. I’ve served in various roles in my community and this is just another one of those segues into what I do. I just love being out and doing things in a town, in a community.”

Holmes said Council hired Kuklinski as Police Chief because they want a new direction and to make improvements to the police force that includes six full-time officers and two part-time officers, plus the Chief.

“Trying to look at everything and saying just because it was done this way, doesn’t necessarily mean that was the right way or the way it should be handled here,” said Holmes.

One of the things identified was a need for more communication with the public.

“The more communication we can give to the people, the easier it is for them to understand what we’re doing,” said Holmes, who has been sharing releases with the media and posting notices on the Hamburg Borough Police Facebook page.

“We use media and social media to solve crimes,” said Kuklinski, citing examples of posting video and photos on Facebook that lead to suspects being arrested. Kuklinski hopes that members of the community will feel comfortable reporting tips to the police.

“That’s part of the reason of reaching out to the community. My officers need to take a proprietary interest in this town. It’s our town. It’s not anybody else’s town. We work here. We service this town. The folks in this town are our folks,” said Kuklinski.

“I have great confidence in the Chief, I think he’s going to do very good here,” said Holmes.

About the Author

Lisa Mitchell

Lisa Mitchell is the editor of The Kutztown Patriot and Managing Editor of Berks-Mont Newspapers. Reach the author at lmitchell@berksmontnews.com or follow Lisa on Twitter: @kutztownpatriot.