Frankford extends offer to candidate for police chief

The Frankford Town Council voted 4-0 on Monday to extend an offer to an applicant for the Town’s chief of police. The position has been vacant since the end of 2014, when former police chief William Dudley retired.

The council said they would extend the offer of employment this week, after having selected a candidate from among the eight applicants for the position. The interview process itself was held during a workshop where the council assembled, along with another area police chief, and interviewed the candidates.

“We will not name the applicant until we have extended the offer and he accepts,” said Mayor Joanne Bacon.

Councilman Charles Shelton said the Town has had part-time police coverage recently, on Tuesday through Thursday of last week, and Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

“There will be more police coverage,” said Shelton. “Everything was fine. They didn’t get no reports, no calls.”

Shelton said the officers covering the town on a temporary basis are from the Dagsboro Police Department and drive the Town’s police cars, and they wear Frankford police shirts while they’re on duty in town. He noted that the officers have the ability to run radar and write tickets, if needed. He said the officers are being paid $15 per hour.

He told residents that, if they have an issue that requires police assistance, to call 911. If an officer is on duty in the town, they will be informed through Sussex County’s emergency center, which can also dispatch firefighters, EMTs or state troopers, if needed.

Residents asked on April 6 why the Town does not have any marked police cars, questioning whether or not those driving through the town would be moved to slow down if they couldn’t identify the unmarked car as a police vehicle.

Shelton said there were other local departments that had unmarked police vehicles, but that the council would look into what it would take to mark one of the cars.

Resident Marty Presley asked if speed cameras are legal in the State of Delaware, and if so, could the council look into getting some to stop speeding traffic through town.

“It’s a big safety concern,” he said, noting that speeding has gotten noticeably worse throughout town since the Town lost both of its police officers early this year.

Council said they would look into whether or not speed cameras are allowed, and if it’s something the Town could afford.

The Town park was also a subject of discussion at the meeting, after Councilwoman Velicia Melson said she’d done research into replacing the park’s water fountain with a commercial-grade outdoor, non-refrigerated fountain.

“You’re looking in excess of $2,500,” she said. “Quite honestly, I don’t see a $2,500 need, with all the trash and bottles lying around.”

David Ward, who heads the Town’s maintenance department, said the fountain in the park no longer works, due to continual vandalism.

“As soon as I’d fix it, they’d tear it up,” he said. “The one we have now is unfixable — they tore it up so bad.”

Melson said parkgoers could bring their own water or use the sink in the restroom.

One resident questioned what people should do when the park restrooms are closed, from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily.

Shelton said he believes that, at the very least, a spigot should be available outside, as the park is used for cookouts. The council members said they would research the cost of installing a spigot in the park and report back.

Bacon said the Town has tabled discussions related to a possible charter amendment, as the Town currently does not have an attorney, since former town solicitor Dennis Schrader resigned from his position with the Town in March.

“Dennis did draft it, and we agreed to table that at our last town council meeting because it didn’t address all of the Board of Election’s recommendations for absentee ballots, the timing of the election, voting hours,” added Melson. “Not all of those concerns were addressed in Dennis Schrader’s proposal, so therefore we tabled it at the last town council meeting.”

The draft ordinance that was presented at the March meeting did show changes to the town charter, moving the town election to the second Saturday in March, with the hours for the length of poll openings to be set by the town council and announced in all notices required by law.

It also stated that the “filing deadline for candidates for office shall be 21 days prior to the election” and that “the use of absentee ballots is expressly permitted and shall be governed by the procedure set forth” in Delaware Code. The draft also addresses voter registration and the appointment and terms of members of the Town’s Board of Elections.

At the same March council meeting, Melson had said she would head a committee to review the Town’s Charter in its entirety. Following Monday’s meeting, she said the committee was on hold until the town hires an attorney.

The next Frankford Town Council meeting will be held Monday, May 4, at 7 p.m. at the Frankford Volunteer Fire Department.