The Clarke Report recently uncovered another example of police corruption in our area, this time in nearby Columbia County. On May 23rd, Berwick Police were called to the home of Kimberly Klinger based on allegations that her ex-husband Allan Vandermark was driving under the influence of alcohol with his three young children in the vehicle. Ms. Klinger was informed about Mr. Vandermark’s alleged status by one of her sons that had phoned her to ask if he could return home instead of accompanying his father on a trip to Orangeville. She immediately called the police to have Mr. Vandermark apprehended.
When Officer Troy Manival arrived on the scene, Mr. Vandermark was reportedly parked in the middle of the road, the engine was still running, he remained behind the wheel, and one of his sons was seated in the front passenger’s side of the vehicle. According to eyewitnesses, Mr. Vandemark was asked to get out of the vehicle, at which time he fell over. Officer Manival was not even able to conduct a field sobriety test. As a result, Mr. Vandermark was taken to Berwick Hospital via police cruiser and administered a blood alcohol test. He was then driven home by police.
Today, The Clarke Report was informed that Mr. Vandermark’s blood alcohol level (BAC) was .296, more than three times the legal limit in Pennsylvania. Accordingly, he was charged with DUI and is set to be arraigned in front of District Justice Richard Cashman in two weeks.
Here is where it gets dicey. According to Section 4304 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, a parent or guardian endangers the welfare of children when he/she knowingly endangers the welfare of the child by violating a duty of care, protection, or support. You’d think that driving your three children while under those conditions would warrant AT LEAST one child endangerment charge, especially since one of the kids was still in the vehicle when police arrived. Yet, he was not charged.
Ms. Klinger spoke with Berwick Chief Of Police Frank Brennan today over the telephone. When she inquired as to why Mr. Vandermark had not been charged with child endangerment, he stated that according to the report filed by Office Manival, there were not any passengers present in the vehicle. As was stated above, this is a blatant lie.
It is clear that Officer Manival falsified his police report, but the reasons why are unclear. What is clear is that he broke the law. At worst, Officer Manival committed perjury if Berwick Police Department mandates an affirmation of truth on their forms. At best, he committed unsworn falsification to authorities. No matter which is the most appropriate offense for Columbia County District Attorney Gary Norton to charge, it is undeniable that this officer should be required to hand in his badge and gun.
As I personally discovered during my ordeal with the Tamaqua Police Dept., police are given wide discretion to charge as they see fit. However, when an officer crosses the line from utilizing his discretion to lying in a report, in my mind he has now become a dirty cop and is unfit to serve in the capacity of trusted public servant. I believe that Officer Manival has crossed that line.
Hopefully, DA Norton will step in to conduct a fair investigation and charge both Manival and Vandermark appropriately. At the time of this article, though, Norton has yet to respond to numerous telephone messages left by Ms. Klinger over the past few weeks. I sincerely hope that Berwick’s mayor and borough council take little time in discharging their duty and ensuring a speedy resolution to this ugly matter.