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Officials upset, but keep focus on police talks

Posted 2/12/17

In the past week, we were called to task by two of Middletown’s most prominent elected leaders for our Jan. 25 story about police regionalization.

Telephone calls, texts and a letter touched on …

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Officials upset, but keep focus on police talks


In the past week, we were called to task by two of Middletown’s most prominent elected leaders for our Jan. 25 story about police regionalization.

Telephone calls, texts and a letter touched on an array of accusations and interpretations about the article.

They were critical of us calling a Jan. 12 meeting among key players in regionalization a “closed-door” session, and that it was held behind “locked doors.” They said we incorrectly reported the number of people who attended.

To refute, defend and acknowledge the article’s shortcomings beyond the scope of reasonableness would do little more then reignite the fire that the story had sparked. Fewer than the 16 people we reported attended the meeting. Whether the doors were locked is disputable. Whether it was a closed-door meeting is not up for debate, however. It was not a public meeting, and while members of the borough council were invited, the public was not. It was, literally, held behind closed doors.

Saying that it was “closed door” is not a judgment as to what happened behind those doors. It does not mean that decisions were made or anything nefarious occurred. While that is the perception by some of the borough leaders, it was not our intent.

With that being said, we want to add this: We attempt to accurately and fairly report the events that take place in our slice of south central Pennsylvania. Often that’s an extremely challenging task – rife with following confusing trails of facts, innuendoes of illegalities and raw emotions. Add to that the task of connecting with pertinent officials and meeting deadlines in today’s “publish it now” media landscape, and we believe you can understand the scope of our job.

If you consider the breadth of the challenges and undertakings shouldered by local governments, Middletown in particular, you will probably get a fairly good idea of the complexities and passions. We want leaders who feel strongly about making Middletown — or Lower Swatara Township, or Londonderry Township — great places to live and work. Differences of opinion are bound to happen when people care deeply.

We don’t get everything exactly right. But when we stray from the mark on facts in a story, or fail to provide enough points of views from both sides of an issue, we will acknowledge those shortcomings. 

What we will not do is engage in rancorous dialogue. Rather we will listen and discuss rationally and all the while remain true to our job to serve our readers and advertisers with accurate stories.  

It’s an imperfect world and we all make mistakes, and we will admit to missteps and labor with diligence to recommit them.

We also don’t want to lose sight of why borough leaders are concerned about how the Jan. 12 meeting was characterized.

Mayor James H. Curry III and Council President Ben Kapenstein have said over and over that they want these police regionalization discussions to be transparent.

These discussions and the actions taken after issues are sorted through will affect the borough for years to come. And some residents flat-out do not like the idea of Middletown not having its own police force, so borough officials are trying to tread gracefully through all the challenges littering the landscape.

We support regionalization or a contract for services, and we have stated that publicly in editorials several times. We also agree with the sentiment both Curry and Kapenstein have expressed: If such an agreement can keep the same or better level of service for the same or a discounted cost, it must be explored.

We have no reason to think that either of them have anything but the best interests of the borough in mind.

And let’s also remember that the key part of the Jan. 25 article was to inform you, the readers, about a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 15 in council chambers at the Borough Hall to discuss regionalizing police forces, or contracting for services.

This is your chance to weigh in, to gather information about where the discussions are, and to let your feelings be known.

Take advantage of this meeting and attend if you want to learn more. It is a benefit to borough residents that it is being held, and we hope there is an open exchange of information to increase understanding of this complex issue.