Middletown's police chief and Middletown's mayor say David Rich's letter last week contained inaccuracies and false statements.
Although we believe Mr. David Rich’s letter to the editor last week is simply a political tactic in his campaign to run for Middletown Town Council, we feel it is necessary to respond to the inaccuracies and falsehoods represented in his letter.
Mr. Rich’s letter was about his concerns regarding hiring practices at the Middletown Police Department. Clarification: When we began the police department in 2007, we hired 20 officers. The makeup of the department comprised 4 black males, 2 females, 2 Hispanic males and 12 white males. Since 2007, 3 black officers have left, along with 7 white males. MPD, as well as most municipal departments, experience the problem of officers leaving to pursue other interests or to go on to other police agencies.
Nationally, police departments are challenged with the recruiting and retention of minority candidates. All small police departments compete with larger departments that can provide more pay, take home cars and specialized units in which to work. In addition, many qualified candidates turn to the Federal agencies for employment for many of the same reasons.
Today, the MPD has 27 officers, made up as follows: 2 black males, 4 females, 2 Hispanic males, 1 Asian male and 18 white males. Since our inception, we have made every effort to recruit minority candidates by annually attending career days at all colleges and universities in Delaware, including Delaware State University. Chief Tobin has served on the DelTech Criminal Justice Advisory Board to advise and restructure the curriculum for students who wish to pursue careers in the Criminal Justice field. We have also attended NOBLE (National Organization for Black Law Enforcement Executives) events over the years to make every effort to attract minority candidates to our agency.
Mr. Rich alleges our hiring practices are unfair and inconsistent. In fact, the MPD follows the same hiring procedures as most, in particular, the same processes used by New Castle County and Delaware State Police departments. In addition, when MPD has a job opening, we send out notices of employment to 163 colleges and universities, including those with high minority student bodies. We post online and run ads in all the local papers. The Mayor and Council have increased the entry pay scale to assist in attracting qualified candidates.
In his letter, Mr. Rich alleged there is nepotism on the Middletown Police Department. Since we began, no officer is, or has been, related to anyone in the police department, to the Mayor or anyone on Town Council. The claim of nepotism is baseless. Mr. Rich also comments on the seasonal “yellow shirt” program not being representative of the community. Of the 62 seasonal positions we have had since 2008, 20 were filled with minority or protected class officers (32 percent overall).
The Middletown Police Department is a dedicated and professional police department and the clearance rates and response times are well above the national average. In addition, the connection with the community we serve is unsurpassed. When a citizen has a concern or problem, they can count on one of our officers to take the time to conduct a thorough investigation and make every effort to provide the best service possible. The relationship with our peers in the law enforcement community is extremely strong and we are respected as a professional police department. This will not be diminished by our first negative letter to the editor since we began in 2007.
Lastly, we did meet with Mr. Rich about two years ago and he asked the question, “Why do I not see myself on your department?” We asked him to clarify his question and he said “black males.” We told him we are making every attempt to attract all viable candidates and are striving to be a diverse department. Since his current position is to find jobs for veterans coming out of the military, we told him to send some good candidates our way. That was two years ago, and we are still waiting.