David B. Rich writes, "As a resident and taxpayer residing in the Town of Middletown I must say I am very concerned and feel disenfranchised with both the current culture as well as the hiring practices of the Middletown Police Department."
As a resident and taxpayer residing in the Town of Middletown I must say I am very concerned and feel disenfranchised with both the current culture as well as the hiring practices of the Middletown Police Department (MPD). When the police department was initially established in July 2007 there was an intentional appearance that the configuration of the officers selected clearly took into consideration the diversity and dynamics of the Middletown community in which they serve. The initial 20 officers hired included 2 female officers, 1 Hispanic officer, 4 African American officers and 12 Caucasian officers. This was the makeup of the charter members selected for the newly reconstituted MPD.
Since its inception in 2007, the MPD has experienced growth just as the town has grown. Since then the department has hired 17 officers. Out of those 17 new hires there were 0 Hispanic, 1 African American, and 2 female officers. It should be noted that 3 of the African American officers hired by the department have resigned from their positions. Currently, the department is made up of 2 Black officers, 4 females, 1 Hispanic and 23 White officers. I personally find this unacceptable since this does not nearly reflect the diversity, growth and professionalism of our community.
Two years ago I spoke directly with the police chief and the mayor regarding these concerns, however, nothing has changed. In fact, it continues to get worse. Nepotism and familiarity continues to be an issue. Most all law enforcement agencies throughout the state have experienced similar issues and concerns and have addressed them. They re-evaluated their recruitment practices and processes in order to outreach to all potential candidates and establish a diversified agency. The Mayor and police chief contend they cannot selectively seek minority employees. Yet they had no problem establishing a diverse force initially. If they simply actively recruit from the law enforcement program at Delaware State University they may have a more equitable pool to select from. MPD should learn from these past practices.
During the summer the police department hires young men and women to serve on their “yellow jackets” or “biker team.” Although, I do not know the exact number, I must say I have not seen any young black males or black females ever on the team. As a taxpayer and citizen I find this to be extremely unfair and a poor reflection of the community. If the yellow jackets are somewhat of the farm team for future town police officers, then this trend will only continue for years to come.
The Middletown Police Department must change its current culture and professional leadership. If the Town of Middletown’s leadership is dictating the culture and actions of the Middletown Police Department, then that culture too must change. The police departments hiring processes are neither consistent nor fair across the board. When the department was formulated, all the officers hired were introduced as seasoned experienced law enforcement professional from various police department. The Town Council was very proud to say they had the best of the best. Yet through the years the Middletown Police Department has created a negative culture of unfairness.
It is TIME FOR A CHANGE! Now with the current police chief retiring, the Town of Middletown must begin to move in a different direction. In order to change the culture they must open the chief position to a wide audience and bring someone in with a vision and passion for the community. Simply hiring from within will only serve to continue and maintain business as usual and as far as I’m concerned that is unacceptable.