Council committee reviews independent police assessment

“The status quo is not an option for the Middletown Police Department,” says a report from Transparency Matters, a Harrisburg-based police consulting firm retained by the Borough of Middletown to provide an independent assessment of its police department.

“In both a general and specific sense, positive change is needed,” the report finds. The assessment was presented Wednesday night to the Borough Council Public Safety Committee by retired state police Lt. Colonel John R. “Rick” Brown, the head of Transparency Matters.

Without changes, Brown told the committee, “The taxpayers of this community are under serious threats of liability because of the way things are being run.”

The report issued detailed findings in 10 different areas, including directives, equipment, investigative reporting, scheduling and overtime, files and record keeping and equipment. The findings follow a month-long visit by two other retired high ranking state police officers who are part of Brown’s staff. During that time, the pair conducted interviews and reviewed all aspects of the department’s operations.

Perhaps the most significant recommendation is one that calls for establishing a lieutenant position in the department’s command structure. Brown said that is necessary to provide a supervisory officer because the department’s two current sergeants also function as patrol officers, leaving little time for supervisory duties.

“The two most important issues right now are training and supervision,” Brown reports. “There is a glaring lack of administrative structure.”

Brown says the lack of adequate supervision leads to issues the Borough has experienced with poor record keeping. Earlier this year it was discovered the police department had not filed required Uniform Crime Code reports for several months due to inadequate information being filed in reports.

The good news, Brown says, is that Middletown’s officers appear open and eager to make changes needed to operate more professionally. “Their attitude was ‘We’re kind of embarrassed by this. We want to do better,’” says Brown. “They know something has to be done, and they know this report was not targeting any of them.”

The report will now be forwarded to the Council as a whole.

Absent from Wednesday’s meeting was Middletown Mayor James H. Curry III. Under state law, the mayor has supervisory responsibility for the police department in a borough. No reason was given for the Mayor’s absence.

Click here to view the full Independent Assessment and the accompanying Directives Review.

 

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