Frankford’s next step: State police contract or hire new chief

 

FRANKFORD – State police or hire a new chief of police.

Having passed on a proposal to unify Dagsboro and Frankford police departments under singular leadership, town of Frankford officials are contemplating the town’s next move.

“So, the next step is to decide whether we contract with the state police or hire another police chief and do as we had been doing for the last four or five years,” said Frankford town councilman Marty Presley.

The police issue is the lone agenda item for a special meeting Tuesday evening at Frankford Town Hall. Tomorrow night’s public meeting starts at 7 p.m.

On hand will be a representative from the town of Millville, which currently contracts through Delaware State Police for coverage, Mr. Presley said.

“She is going to give her impression of how things work in Millville by contracting with the state police. She’ll give a presentation,” said Mr. Presley. “We’ll look at the budget issues as far as going either way.”

Police coverage with state police is nothing new in Frankford.

“Actually, the town of Frankford used to do that before we hired Chief (William) Dudley. We contracted with the state police for a certain amount of coverage per week,” said Mr. Presley.

Frankford has been without a fulltime police officer since Mark Hudson abruptly resigned in late July. Mr. Hudson was hired in the summer of 2016, succeeding Michael Warchol, who stepped down as chief to relocate to the Baltimore area where his wife was transferred with her federal job.

Mr. Warchol was hired in April of 2015, about four months after Mr. Dudley retired in December of 2014.

There is money for police allocated in Frankford’s 2017-18 budget. “I think our budget was like $77,000 for the police department; all of the stuff that was involved with keeping Mark onboard was budgeted for that. Now that he resigned we’ve still got that amount of money budgeted,” said Mr. Presley. “So, we have that to work with. We have got to figure out which is the most cost-efficient way to do it going forward.”

In the interim, the town of Frankford has hired Tyler Bare, a fulltime officer with the Dagsboro Police Department, on a part-time basis to tie up loose ends.

“The primary thing he is doing is trying to wrap up the cases that Mark had on the books. I think he (Bare) has one or two cases open,” Mr. Presley said.

While there is no real sense of urgency for a decision, deadlines do loom pertaining to various police grants.

“I don’t think there is necessarily a drop-dead timeline. But these different grants that the town receives, they have their deadlines. We have been extended on two grants – the EDIE (Emergency Illegal Drug Enforcement) and the SALLE (State Aid to Local Law Enforcement) grants. We need to report back to them by December so we’re not in jeopardy of losing them going forward,” said Mr. Presley. “Obviously, if we hire a new police chief they will just continue on. If we go with the state police that may be a different situation where we’re going to lose most of those grants.”

Several months ago, Dagsboro Police Chief Floyd Toomey proposed the unification of the town’s police departments under one chief. It would have increased coverage in both towns. Under Chief Toomey’s proposal, Dagsboro would provide four officers, which it currently has, and Frankford would provide two officers.

The projected cost of Frankford’s financial obligation was $121,400.

Special public meetings were held in both towns on the unification proposal and it was discussed at great length at Frankford council meetings.

“I guess the fundamental decision is it seemed like from our meetings we had there was not a feeling with the residents of the town that we had a big crime problem,” said Mr. Presley. “I personally disagree with that, but …”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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