South Bethany council to release portions of police policy reports

The South Bethany Town Council addressed two long-standing issues with its police department at its Friday, May 11, meeting.

Following an executive session that lasted more than an hour, the council voted to release the results of two reports pertaining to police department operations, albeit in two different forms.

The council also approved the awarding of a bid for renovations to the police department.

Regarding the reports, in the works for nearly a year, Police Chief Troy Crowson and Town Manager Maureen Hartman will receive the full, unedited versions. The public will have access to redacted versions of the reports, but will have to file Freedom of Information Act requests to receive those.

The reports were commissioned by the Town in 2017, with the goals of having its police department and employment policies evaluated. Changes in policies, police rankings and the town charter resulted.

The reports were done by Gregory A. Warren and by the Center for Public Safety Management, which provides technical assistance in public-safety issues for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

The town council voted unanimously in April to give redacted copies of the Warren report and the Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM) report to Crowson and Hartman.

At that time, Crowson said, “Anything that has to do with attorneys, communication with attorneys — I’m not interested in. Just the actual study. … I’m just only interested in the data that was derived from those studies.”

He said after the May meeting, however, that the redacted reports he had received were “ridiculous” and not useful to him.

The issue of the reports was complicated by a June 2017 letter from six South Bethany police officers that contained complaints about holiday pay, promotions and pension issues. No legal action was ever taken by the officers, but the issues were never resolved, either.

The council also voted 6-1 this week to approve a bid by Delmarva Veteran Builders of Salisbury, Md., to complete renovations to the police department building. The proposal included a base bid of $63,500 to complete that work, which Crowson said the police department has funding to cover. The Town will cover a $10,000 contingency fee and an additional $11,000 in potential costs. The total will depend on which of three alternative plans the Town chooses.

The basic project includes measures to provide better security for the building, including new keycard apparatus for doors, as well as better separation of the various areas of the department.

Councilman Frank Weisgerber voted against the bid approval, saying he would have preferred to wait until the next council workshop. Some details of the bid are not final, pending the selection by the construction firm of an electrician and information on what the costs of electrical work will be.

By Kerin Magill
Staff Reporter