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Middletown has 41 applications for public safety director position it is creating

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 6/24/20

Middletown has received 41 applications for the proposed new public safety director position that is to replace the chief of police.

The vast majority of applications have come to the borough …

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Middletown has 41 applications for public safety director position it is creating

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Middletown has received 41 applications for the proposed new public safety director position that is to replace the chief of police.

The vast majority of applications have come to the borough through indeed.com, borough Manager Ken Klinepeter told the Press & Journal in an email on Monday.

The borough is accepting applications for the position for 30 days, Klinepeter told the Press & Journal on June 12. The borough is also advertising for the position through the borough website, the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, the Capital Area Council of Governments, policeapp.com, and PennLive.

Klinepeter released to the Press & Journal the final version of the job description.

Council in November 2019 voted 5-0 to create the position, even though it did not have a job description because one did not exist.

The borough solicitor then prepared a draft job description.

After council deadlocked 3-3 on June 4, Mayor James H. Curry III broke the tie in favor of advertising for the position.

Shortly before the June 4 meeting, the Middletown Borough Police Officers Association, which is the borough police officers’ union, made public its opposition to the proposed public safety director position through several posts on the association’s Facebook page.

Besides calling the position “a horrible idea,” the association contended that boroughs in Pennsylvania are not allowed to have a public safety director according to the state borough code.

Changing their stance

Council President Angela Lloyd and council members Dawn Knull and Jenny Miller previously voted in favor of creating the public safety director position in November. But Lloyd and Miller both voted against advertising it on June 4.

Lloyd and Miller in saying why they changed their minds both referred to concerns that the person hired would be a civilian and therefore might not be authorized to carry a firearm or to perform law enforcement duties.

According to the final job description approved by council and made public by the borough, Middletown’s public safety director would not be required to be employed in law enforcement.

However, all applicants must possess the Act 120 certification that is required to be a police officer in Pennsylvania, according to the job description. They must also meet all current continuing education requirements regarding the Act 120 certification.

Otherwise, among qualifications included in the job description are 10 years of experience in a job “relating to law enforcement.”

The job description also lists under “physical/mental conditions” applicants are to possess a number of conditions characteristic of being a police officer, such as being able “to apprehend and maintain control of criminal perpetrators” and being “proficient in the use of firearms.”

The job description the council approved says the public safety director is head of the police department and reports to the mayor per Pennsylvania borough code.

The public safety director “also provides oversight regarding emergency medical services and fire services provided within the borough, and coordinates with and offers support to entities providing such services within the borough,” according to the job description.

Knull was not at the June 4 council meeting but had she been, she would have voted against advertising for the position, she told the Press & Journal afterward in a text message.

“I voted in November to solicit for information, but after reviewing the information and talking with residents, I do not feel that our borough is large enough for a public safety director position,” Knull said.

That would have made the vote against advertising 4-3, meaning the motion to advertise made by Councilor Richard Kluskiewicz would have failed had Knull been at the June 4 meeting.

Besides Kluskiewicz, council Vice President Ian Reddinger and Councilor Ellen Willenbecher voted to advertise.

Joining Lloyd and Miller in opposing advertising was Councilor Scott Sites, who was not on council in November.

Council will have to vote to approve hiring someone to be public safety director.

Curry broke the tie, despite saying “I don’t want a public safety director.” Curry said the position was not his idea but council’s, and that after seven months of debate — albeit all of it behind closed doors — it is time to act.

Mouchette trial

As proposed in Middletown, the public safety director would replace the police chief position now held by George Mouchette.

Mouchette has been suspended without pay since August 2018, when he was charged with sexual assault for allegedly attempting to rape a woman while in uniform at the police station on Emaus Street on Aug. 13, 2018, according to arrest papers filed by the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Dauphin County District Attorney’s office. 

Mouchette is scheduled for trial in Dauphin County Court on Aug. 17.

The department is led by interim Police Chief Sgt. Dennis Morris, who Curry appointed the same day Mouchette was charged. Council shortly after ratified Curry’s appointment of Morris.