Click here to view David Rhen's letter to Middletown voters.
Please print this letter in time to get to the voters of Middletown Borough.
It seems that members of the current Borough Council like to make statements at the 11th hour that are either vague or factually inaccurate. Here are a few examples:
• Dave Rhen, chairman of council's Public Safety Committee, recently mailed a letter through out the borough. In one statement, Rhen says, “I know all too well the problems associated with the Borough's Police Force.” Rhen held hearings in 2011 dealing with police corruption. The only people speaking to police wrongdoing were those who had been arrested by the police. The media covered those hearings but nothing was ever reported on the news. Dave Rhen and crew went to the District Attorney and Attorney General with their tales of corruption. They were told that there was nothing criminal going on. Rhen is the one who has given our Police Department a black eye with his unfounded accusations of corruption. He even urged more civil law suits against the Borough. Has Middletown been sued more than other police departments?
• Rhen's statement that the police force was “Virtually unmanaged for most of the past two decades.” Rhen was on council three different times – 1984, 2001 and 2010. So Rhen has been on council for at least 12 years while all this so-called mismanagement was happening – and as chairman of the Public Safety Committee, what did he do to correct it?
• Let's talk about police overtime. Again I quote Rhen, who said police “have cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in unbudgeted overtime expenses.” You slashed a budget item to an unrealistically low amount, then say it is the police force's fault that overtime is over budget. If overtime is truly over budget by hundreds of thousands of dollars, then it is poor budgeting on the part of the Borough Manager and Borough Council. Several police officers have retired/resigned and the positions have not been filled. So there are less officers to fill the same number of shifts, making the only alternative overtime. The national average is 2.3 full time officers per 1,000 residents. Middletown has 13 full time officers for just over 9,000 residents – 2.3 x 9 = 20.7. How safe do you feel?
• Rhen states, “Borough Council has been taking major steps to modernize and professionalize the Police Department.” What steps, and how much did it cost? Remember, this council says the borough's broke.
• Rhen states, “Police dispatch has been moved to Dauphin County's 911 system, which will hold officers more accountable for their whereabouts and actions.” The dissolution of our dispatch center is the reason that none of us can contact the police officers or get copies of reports. County 911 has no control over our police officers and does nothing to hold them accountable – they only dispatch the calls.
This council has appointed three police chiefs in the last two years. I certainly hope they get it right soon. How much did they spend to buy each of those chiefs out of their contract?
How much will the quest for accreditation cost us taxpayers?
Rhen states, “Excess overtime has been curbed.” Do you notice that dollar amounts are never quoted. If they saved us so much money why not tell us how much?
• Now, Bob Givler's $63,000 payout: If Mr. Givler was dedicated enough that he didn't use the leave available to him, then he was entitled to get paid for it when he retired. Unlike police chiefs who get their contract bought out when we want them to move on.
Do you see how easy it is to be mislead by vague statements? They make statements without backing them up with any facts.
What axes do these people have to grind with our Police Department? Is it that several of them or their family members have been arrested?
Let me tell you something about our police department. In a 2010/2011 study done regarding the Communications Center the statistics showed our Police Department made more criminal arrests than departments more than twice our size. The study was made part of the public record and previously listed on the borough's website.
I'm not sure why our candidates have not asked this question: How could this council take us from a surplus of funds to financially distressed in less than two years?
Dave Rhen was sure willing to make accusations about Bob Givler but doesn't say what Mr. Curry is going to do or what he is about, other than he has no ties to the Police Department. What does Mr. Curry know about running or overseeing a police department?
Mary L. Hiester
(The writer is a former president of Middletown Borough Council.)