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TOP COP: Middletown hires Bey unanimously

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Middletown Borough Council voted 9-0 tonight to hire John Bey of Susquehanna Township to be the town's new police chief.


Bey will be paid a salary not to exceed $72,500. He will also receive no benefits. Council President Chris McNamara said that Bey had asked not to be paid benefits.


It will likely be several weeks to a month before Bey is available. He needs to retire from the Pennsylvania State Police, where he has been for 25 years. Bey holds the rank of captain, and is now director of training for the state police Bureau of Training and Education. Bey is also a senior master sergeant and a 28-year-veteran of the U.S. Air Force Reserve.


Bey, who was at tonight's meeting and was present for the vote, received a hearty standing ovation from council after the decision was made.


Bey stood up from his seat in the front row of the audience, shook hands with the council members who came over to congratulate him, and told the crowd he was pleasantly surprised to have received the ovation.


Hiring Bey was among several items involving personnel and potential litigation that council discussed during a closed-door executive session held during Monday night's meeting.


However, when it came to any public discussion or disagreement on council regarding choosing Bey, there was none.


Bey was one of three finalists who had emerged from a total of about 25 applicants for the chief's position.


One of the other finalists, Corporal Travis Thickstun of the Indiana Excise Police Force, withdrew his candidacy after council's public safety committee voted 2-0 to back Bey.


Committee Chairman Scott Sites, who was not present when the committee voted to recommend Bey, had favored Thickstun. However, Sites made no comment Monday night other than to nominate Bey as the new chief. 


No mention was made of the third finalist, Stephen Mazzeo, the former Sunbury police chief.


Bey said he hopes to start as Middletown's new chief within a month. He took a required psychological exam earlier Monday, and needs to be certified by the state as a municipal police officer. He also needs to receive his honorable discharge from the state police.


On the borough's side, Councilor Ben Kapenstein said that the borough will conduct a background check into Bey. He must pass a non-competitive examination through the borough civil service commission, and Bey must also undergo a polygraph test to be administered on the borough's behalf.


Kapenstein said he believes all this could be achieved within a few weeks to a month, but he could not say for certain.


Kapenstein also said that during this interim period council plans to possibly reconsider  the current ordinance requirement that the police chief become a Middletown resident within 15 months of being hired.


The requirement had emerged as a potential stumbling block toward hring Bey, in that Bey said he had just recently completed building a new home for his family in Susquehanna Township.


Bey told The Press and Journal during a break in Monday's meeting that he hoped the council would be willing to waive the requirement, at least for a period.


The ordinance does allow for a waiver, however it is not clear if the requirement can be waived indefinitely under the current ordinance.


Kapenstein said he expects the council while waiting for Bey to come on board will review the ordinance to see if the residency requirement for the police chief should remain in place as it currently exists, or if the requirement should be changed in some way or eliminated all together.