Last month, Dagsboro Police Chief Floyd Toomey presented some information to the Frankford Town Council about what it would take to join the two towns’ police forces.
At the Aug. 7 meeting, Toomey said the Town of Dagsboro currently has four officer positions in its budget. If the two towns were to come together for police protection, Dagsboro would request Frankford provide the funds for two officers, to bring the total force up to six officers. He added that the purpose of combining the two forces would be to increase the police presence in both towns.
Following the meeting, the Towns agreed to hold two unification workshops to get the public’s input on the idea.
The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. at the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company’s fire hall, followed by a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. at the Dagsboro fire hall.
“Chief Toomey will be running the meetings — he’ll basically present what’s being proposed and then open the meetings up to questions. If they’ve got any questions, that’s the perfect time to do it. They’re not public hearings — we’re not going to vote on anything,” said Dagsboro Mayor Brian Baull.
“It’s more getting the information out to the people, ‘Here’s what’s being proposed…’ We encourage people to come out. If they have any kind of question they want to ask, concerns, that would be a good time to do so.”
The idea came about following the resignation of Frankford Police Chief Mark Hudson on July 27; however, it wasn’t the first time the idea had been considered. Toomey said he knows the Towns had joint police departments many years ago, possibly in the 1950s, from what he’s been told.
“When Chief Dudley retired, it was considered at that point in time to possibly merge, and then again when Chief Warchol got transferred last year — he suggested we contacted Dagsboro and see if it was viable,” added Frankford Town Councilman Marty Presley.
“Obviously, with Mark Hudson resigning, it threw it back up in the forefront. We had a preliminary talk with Dagsboro, and they were agreeable to taking a look… It’s really a way for both of us to get more coverage and use the law of large numbers that we could have more people in a combined force than we could in two individual forces.”
Town officials from both towns are hoping as many of their citizens — residents, property owners, business owners and interested parties — as possible will attend one, if not both, of the informational meetings.
“The citizens and business owners and local representatives should attend all these meetings, just so they get an informed idea of what the proposal is, what it will entail and what benefit it has to both towns,” said Toomey. “We think it would be mutually beneficially simply because it would increase our numbers, our coverage, and afford the citizens of both towns more of a police presence.”
“Right now, the feedback I’m getting from other council members is, obviously, we’re going to be cautious and make sure we’re not taking anything away from our police department, but at the same time we realize that small towns have a hard time nowadays keeping police officers,” added Baull. “So, once you get a police officer trained and on the streets, in another year or two, a bigger town like a Milford or a Dover can offer those officers a lot more money, a lot better benefits than the smaller towns can.”
Presley said he, too, hopes to have as many people attend as possible.
“We want to get as much input as we can,” he said, adding, “It’s been a mixed bag so far. Some people are very in favor of it, with the increase in drug crimes, speeding and beach traffic — they’re very in favor of it. And some are looking at the financial implications and are not so thrilled about it.
“I guess that’s the reason we wanted to have a couple of public forums, so that all the residents from both towns could weigh in and see where everybody stands.”
Presley said the Town of Frankford has yet to involve its town solicitor in any discussions about the possible merger, but he added that once the forums have been held, the decision for both towns will likely be made quickly.
“I think it’ll be a relatively quick decision, whether we go forward with it or not — maybe a matter of weeks. If so — if we do go forward with it — Dagsboro says we could be up and running in 60 days. If we decide to not go forward with it, we’ll immediately start advertising for a new police chief.”