Millville, Ocean View talking police

Extending some public safety services to Millville is once again a topic of conversation in Ocean View, as the town prepares a response to a request from Millville Mayor Don Minyon to “discuss the details of Ocean View’s possibly providing public safety services to the Town of Millville. The topic is set to be discussed at the June 8 Ocean View town council meeting.

On the agenda for the meeting is the consideration of and possible voting on a “resolution to authorize the mayor and one other member of the town council, supported by the town manager, the chief of police and the finance director to meet with the mayor of Millville, pursuant to their request to discuss the details of Ocean View’s possibly providing public safety services to the Town of Millville.”

Ocean View Mayor Gordon Wood said last May that the ball was in Millville’s court concerning any action on the issue. At the May 12, 2009, council meeting, Wood said, “4-0 and we wait for Millville.”

Councilman Bob Lawless had proposed a resolution to enter into a temporary agreement in which Ocean View police would take some responsibility for patrolling Millville in an off-duty type setting, saying it could be a good way to gauge the situation before anything was finalized. The council voted 4-0 in favor of the resolution and the mayor repeated, “We can only respond to a request from Millville. We wait for them to make a decision.”

Comments at that meeting from Ocean View residents ran the gamut from believing it was a good idea to a decidedly more conservative approach of making the town’s borders more concrete as far as police service was concerned.

Residents Bill Olsen and Richard Birkmeyer were in agreement at the time that a regional police force was a good idea, but Olsen said he was not in support of officers patrolling Millville in a “moonlighting” capacity, in which it would be on a part-time basis.

Resident Elaine Herbert said the idea is not something to be looked into lightly and that she felt Ocean View should “take care of their own” and refuse to respond to calls from outside areas.

Herbert likened it to maintaining border control and the Town of Ocean View doing charity work for other towns, before Chief Ken McLaughlin interjected at that point in the discussion.

“Millville seems to be getting a bad rap here,” he said. “For the record, we’ve never asked them for a dime. And if we presented them with this, they would gladly compensate us. They deeply appreciate what we are doing. We simply can’t say no. If Mrs. Herbert is getting attacked in the Food Lion parking lot, I’m not going to tell my officers they can’t go because it’s in Millville.”

This week, Wood pointed out that a “regional police force” was not the topic of conversation and moved to quash rumors that Ocean View was trying to take over the Bethany Beach and South Bethany Beach departments.

“I don’t know who would start such rumors,” he said, offering that the rumor had no basis in fact and that nobody pay attention to it. The resolution offered for this Tuesday night’s meeting simply starts a conversation at the request of Millville, the mayor said.

Debbie Botchie, town manager in Millville, said that they are simply “exploring opportunities to reduce cost and improve response time,” emphasizing that no agreements have been made.