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Middletown police calls up 12 percent, department under budget for 2019

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 7/24/19

In its most detailed report made public so far this year, a Middletown Police Department officer told borough council on July 16 that calls for service to the department are up 12 percent this year …

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Middletown police calls up 12 percent, department under budget for 2019

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In its most detailed report made public so far this year, a Middletown Police Department officer told borough council on July 16 that calls for service to the department are up 12 percent this year compared to 2018.

Despite the increased activity — and an 18 percent increase in criminal investigations — the department is under budget for the year, Patrol Officer Mark Laudenslager said in the report presented to council.

The department reported 5,605 calls for service through July 16 of this year, compared to 5,015 for the same period in 2018.

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READ MORE: Middletown Police Department disbanding? Mayor calls union statement 'ill-timed and misinformed'

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Detective Sgt. Gary Rux told the Press & Journal he cannot comment on the report, beyond the numbers and information that were publicly presented to council during the meeting.

Criminal investigations have led to 30 arrests. The department still has more than 100 open cases that have been assigned for criminal investigation.

The cases investigated so far this year include 72 closed cases of child abuse, including cases involving abuse of a sexual or physical nature, as well as neglect.

A case can become closed for a variety of reasons. The case may have been solved, or the matter being investigated may turn out to have been unfounded.

Also, a case might be closed because an alternative way to resolve the issue has been found, instead of filing charges. A case may be considered closed if the district attorney’s office does not support filing charges.

The criminal investigations also include 49 property crimes, 12 sex crimes involving only adults, and 17 homicides or suspicious deaths including overdoses.

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READ MORE: Steelton mayor not aware of any talks with Middletown about police regionalization

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The report did not provide a public breakdown regarding homicides.

Three people were killed in the murder-suicide that occurred in an apartment at 134 S. Union St. on Jan. 2.

The department has also filed charges in the March 14 fatal drug overdose of Carla Nelson at 21 S. Union St.

Laudenslager’s report also covered activity for June 16 through July 16.

The department reported 851 calls for service during the month that included 14 assaults, one robbery, one burglary, three arsons, five DUIs, two firearm charges, 65 traffic citations, and 15 non-traffic citations.

The patrol division handled 55 cases for the month, involving 54 victims and 42 people being arrested, Laudenslager said.

Under budget

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READ MORE: In 2017, residents spoke out vs. Middletown police deal with Lower Swatara

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For Jan. 1 through July 16, the department has used 43 percent of the funds allotted to it for all of 2019 in the general fund budget that was approved by council, Laudenslager said.

Public safety, which includes the police department, makes up 53 percent of the borough’s annual general fund expense budget of $6.9 million for 2019, according to the budget posted on the borough website.

The police department expense budget for 2019 is $3.2 million.

The 43 percent used so far includes department overtime to date, borough Finance Director Kevin Zartman told the Press & Journal in an email.

The borough is also saving the annual $96,000 salary that was budgeted for Chief George Mouchette but is not being spent.

Mouchette has been suspended without pay since Aug. 21, 2018, when sexual assault charges were filed against Mouchette after he allegedly tried to rape a woman who was meeting with him in his office Aug. 13, 2018. The charges against Mouchette are pending in Dauphin County Court, and his next scheduled court appearance is Sept. 23.

Sgt. Dennis Morris is in charge of the police department, as interim chief. Mouchette is still a borough employee but is not being paid.

The report was presented at the same meeting in which council was reacting to the post made on the Middletown Borough Police Officers Association’s Facebook page claiming that the borough was pursuing talks that could lead to the department being disbanded in favor of relying upon other means to provide police service.

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READ MORE: Commissioner Pries says it’s up to municipalities to handle police department consolidation

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