Millville tables notion of police study

The Millville Town Council this week “shelved” the idea of having a police study conducted. In March 2011, the council had approved spending $650 for an initial study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), to help determine the town’s need for police coverage. At their January town council meeting they decided they would have Town Manager Debbie Botchie get a little more information.

Mayor Gerry Hocker reported, on Botchie’s behalf, this week at a Jan. 23 town council workshop that the Department of Homeland Security does not do such studies, that the Institute of Public Administration at the University of Delaware has never done it, that a similar study conducted for Ocean View concentrated on staffing only. Further, he said, the International City and County Management Association (ICMA) does such studies at a cost of $1,000 per day, plus expenses, with a $3,000 cap.

Botchie had been tasked with checking with other organizations such as those, to compare the $650 quote they received from IACP.

Councilwoman Joan Bennett argued that $3,000 had never been spent on a survey or study for the town addition, that it just “appeared” one day, and said, “What’s so bad about spending $3,000 for the public safety for our citizens and business owners?”

Councilman Jon Subity said he was happy that the ICMA at least had a scope of what the town would be getting for $1,000 per day but still thought it would be a waste of money studying something townspeople had said in a survey a little more than a year ago that they “wanted but weren’t willing to pay higher taxes for.”

Councilman Richard Thomas asked if college students couldn’t study the need for a police department for part of a class and offered that some Salisbury University students had expressed some interest in such as a class.

Councilman Robert Gordon said he would like to see the idea shelved for a period of three years to let the economy settle, and to give the town time to figure out what its need are.

Hocker added that, at his family’s grocery stores, they have prosecuted 40 people for shoplifting in the past year or so and, while previously it had taken 45 minutes to an hour before the state police would arrive, that is not the case anymore.

“Now, many times, they are sitting in the parking lot before the customer leaves the store — and that is service.” He explained that “once they conceal it, it is theft, but we let them get to the door.”

He also said the representative from IACP said had told them that many of the towns and cities that he studies have more police officers than Millville has residents, and added that most towns and cities are downsizing and merging departments, rather than starting them. Gordon offered motion to shelve the issue for a period of three years, “so it doesn’t creep up every two or three months.” But after Town Solicitor Seth Thompson said the council should be careful not to “bind future council legislatively,” he changed his motion to bring it up “at a later date,” so as not to preclude a different council from bringing it up before the end of the three-year period.

The council voted 5-0 to shelve the idea of a police study until “a later date.”