Millville considering additional studies on need for police department

The Millville Town Council this week returned to discussion of a town police study. In March 2011, the town 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. This week, they decided they would have Town Manager Debbie Botchie get a little more information.

Council members asked if she would see if the IACP would provide her with a copy of a report in which they recommended a municipal police force and one in which they recommended against one. They also decided she should check with the Town of Ocean View to see what their police study entailed and with the Institute of Public Administration at the University of Delaware, to see if they would possibly do such a study.

Botchie said the price now for such a study is $650 per day, plus expenses, and it would not be a “full-blown” study. She said the cost was quoted at around $6,000 a year prior for a full study. Councilman Jon Subity noted that he had reservations, saying he wasn’t even sure what they would get for that expenditure, before offering that they should ask for a copy of two reports.

“If the gentleman comes down here and we are not even sure for what … and we are just spinning our wheels if we are not in a position of moving forward, even if they tell us we need one… In my opinion, there’s no point until we are ready to move forward.”

Subity also questioned the objectivity of an association of former and retired police officers conducting such a study.

Councilwoman Joan Bennett said she understood his position but added that “without a baseline, we’ve got nothing. How do you think about something when you’ve got nothing to get you thinking about it?” she asked, saying she saw a study as more of a long-term planning tool for the Town.

Mayor Gerry Hocker asked if it wouldn’t be worth calling the University of Delaware to see if they conduct or knew of anyone that conducts such studies, for more objectivity, and Botchie said she would do that, as well.

Councilman Robert Gordon also questioned the IACP’s ability to being objective, saying “I don’t feel comfortable having somebody report on their own.”

The council also placed on their Jan. 24 workshop agenda a discussion with David Smith of the Department of Agriculture, about the town’s proposed farmer’s market. Botchie said they were “good to go” and had a list of possible vendors and wanted the council members to come to the workshop with questions.

Also on the workshop agenda will be a discussion of the second floor of the town hall building. The council briefly discussed on Jan. 10 wheelchair lift bid proposals for second-floor access, as the town had received one bid that had to be turned down, and the bidding process has been re-opened until Jan. 28. Speaking of the second floor, Subity asked, “How do we envision using this again?”

Several of council member expressed their frustration with the second floor and its proposed purpose, and Botchie explained that because it doesn’t have water yet, it cannot have a sprinkler system, which makes it only usable by 10 or fewer people at any one time. The council, at times has, discussed using it as a “command center” during an emergency, since it cannot be designated as an actual shelter because of its size and location in a flood plain.

“It all goes back to water,” said Botchie. She added that the Delaware State Police had not been entirely comfortable using it as a local base without the sprinkler system in place, which had been another use council brought up after the building was built.

Bennett added rhetorically, “What was it built for?”

“I am offended as a taxpayer and as a councilwoman that we are now in a position where we have to deal with this,” she added.

The council decided the second floor would be a timely topic for the Jan. 24 workshop, which starts at 5 p.m.