Frankford Police Chief Larry Corrigan has made a pitch for a second police officer for the town as it prepares its budget for the next fiscal year.
Corrigan, who was hired last fall to restart the town’s police department, requested that at least one part-time officer be included in the Town’s budget.
He asked the Town for $35,000, which he said would allow him to hire a part-time officer at $25 per hour, 20 hours a week. Corrigan said that figure would include paying the officer for court appearances “or something of that nature,” in addition to patrolling the town.
Corrigan told the town’s budget committee that he has already “vetted” several potential candidates, including one who already works for a neighboring town and would take the part-time job at Frankford in addition to that job, if they were hired.
If that officer is hired, he said, they would use their existing equipment, such as bulletproof vest, which would save Frankford the cost of providing that. The only caveat to that arrangement, Corrigan said, would be if the officer’s equipment were damaged while they were working in Frankford. In that case, Frankford would pay to replace the item.
“I think that’s fair,” Corrigan said. He told the Town’s budget committee that he thinks $500 would be enough to outfit a new officer with uniform shirt and pants.
He also asked the Town for $8,000 as a “cushion” against any equipment repairs or similar expenses the department might incur.
Corrigan told the committee he had received some “really good news” about state grants to help fund the police department. He explained that, when the department was shut down two years ago, it meant that the department couldn’t re-apply for grants until three years after it restarted.
However, he said, he recently learned that if the town council would agree to repay any balance if the department were to be shuttered again, the Town could receive grant funding right away.
He said he would be meeting this week with an official from the Delaware Criminal Justice Council to get more information on which grants the department would be eligible for.
Frankford’s police department has “high potential” for receiving a $30,000 grant from Sussex County, Corrigan said. The department received $15,000 from the County this year. Corrigan began working for the Town in December, halfway through the current fiscal year.
Corrigan told the committee the police department had also received $17,000 in funding from the Delaware Division of Public Health for expenses related to the COVID-19 virus pandemic. The state health department, he said, “has been very good to the Town of Frankford,” he said.
Budget Committee Member Robert Murray cautioned that the Town “would have to go back and make cuts” in order to make funds available for another officer.
Kathy Murray, also a member of the budget committee, said she would recommend that the committee “hold off” on making a decision about the police department’s funding “until we get some answers” regarding exactly how much grant money the Town could get.
The chief also asked the budget committee to consider funding a new police vehicle — in particular, one with four-wheel drive. The department currently has two Dodge Charger sedans for patrol.
“I’m not asking for anything new,” Corrigan said. He mentioned the possibility of purchasing a used 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe from the Dagsboro Police Department. Budget Committee Member John Wright said he would rather see the department buy a new vehicle, because a used vehicle the age of Dagsboro’s Tahoe, which has 98,000 miles on it, could be more costly to maintain.
“That’s certainly a valid point,” Corrigan said.
The budget committee was scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, June 10, after the Coastal Point press deadline. Two public hearings have been set for the budget: Wednesday, July 1, at 6:30 p.m. and Monday, July 6, at 7 p.m. The July 6 meeting will be part of the regular monthly town council meeting.