Police Committee Considers Disbanding Police Dept. - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Police Committee Considers Disbanding Police Dept.

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MILTON, Del. - A town committee designed to study the local police department made an unexpected recommendation, but the idea has been rejected by town leaders. The Police Ad Hoc committee has suggested disbanding the local police department, and instead contracting out state police services.

Lynn Ekelund, the chairman of the committee, said that the town is paying approximately half of the budget on the police department. She said that she believed the town could cut costs by using the Delaware State Police instead.

"It comes down to a fiscal matter," she said.

Ekelund also brought up concerns with the high turnover of officers in the department. She said that the low salaries contributed to the problem, which is exacerbated by the budget problems.

In response, Milton Mayor Marion Jones responded, dismissing the committee idea.

"The topic was not within the scope of responsibilities for the committee," she said.

In her statement Jones said that the committee had the responsibility to "study and make recommendations that may serve to enhance public safety and the Police Department operations in the Town of Milton."

"(The) committee acted on it's own initiative without any guidance or direction from mayor and council," Jones said in the statement, which she posted on the Milton website.

Rep. Steve Smyk, who represents the Milton area said the disbanding of the police department would involve a change to the charter, and would thus require a vote from the General Assembly. Smyk said he would only introduce such a bill, if the mayor and council asked for it. Smyk, who was a former state trooper, said that in his eyes it was not a good idea.

"It may not save them as much money as they might expect," he said. "And they're not going to have the same responsiveness as a full-time paid police agency."

Smyk pointed towards the situation in Ellendale. He said that the town disbanded the local police department, years ago in order to initiate a contract with the Delaware State Police. Soon after that, the town then moved back to a local department.

Milton resident Chris Scheper said that in the aftermath of the recent murder at the Park Royal Apartments, the town needs the local department more than ever.

"I'm sure everybody would like to save a buck," she said. "But that's probably not the right spot to do it."
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