Bethany Beach forms police grievance committee

The Bethany Beach Town Council voted unanimously on Dec. 20 to establish a Police Disciplinary Grievance Committee.

“These regulations provide a grievance process that allows a police officer to appeal internal disciplinary punishments,” Mayor Tony McClenny said.

The committee was formed with a sunset provision, being no later than April 1, 2014.

“Is April 1 long enough?” asked Councilman Lew Killmer.

“I believe so,” responded McClenny.

Richard Carmean, the city manager of Milford, will sit on the committee, along with Camden Town Manager Aaron Chaffinch.

“He served 28 years on the Milford department, the last 24 years as the department’s chief of police,” said McClenny of Carmean. Of Chaffinch, he said, he “completed a 27-year career with Delaware State Police, where he served his final three years with the department as the superintendent with Delaware State Police.”

Bethany Beach Town Manager Cliff Graviet will serve as the committee’s chair.

“He has been our town manager for 12 years,” said McClenny. “Prior to accepting the position as our town manager, he was our police chief for seven years, the position he took upon completing a 25-year career with the Delaware State Police. He served as superintendent of the Delaware State Police for the last nine years of his career with that department.

“I believe this specific skill set that these three individuals bring to the table — not only as law enforcement executives but also as municipal executives — make them uniquely qualified for the purpose of this committee,” he added.

McClenny said the committee’s mission is to implement, upon the appeal of any police officer of disciplinary action, an appeals process.

In March, Bethany Beach Police Department Lt. Richard Haden was suspended from the department due to a physical altercation he had with a 45-year-old Dagsboro resident while the man was in BBPD custody on suspicion of drunk driving.

Haden was charged with 3rd-Degree Assault but was acquitted of those charges by Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley.

In November, a trial board was held within in Bethany Beach, in which, based on the evidence presented, that board unanimously found Haden guilty on five of six charges lodged against him by the by Bethany Beach Police Department’s Internal Affairs Office.

He was found guilty by the trial board of three of the charges: use of non-lethal force, knowingly making a false official report related to his supplemental crime report and knowingly making a false official report related to his use-of-force report. Evidence for those three charges was found by the board to be substantiated.

Haden has acknowledged that he used physical force on the suspect but said it happened after the man allegedly threatened his family, and that he was never given the chance to review his reports for errors before they were finalized.

BBPD Chief Mike Redmon will make a determination as to how to discipline Haden once a written decision from the trial board is submitted. Haden will then have the right to file a grievance with the new committee.