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'He is out' — Steelton police chief will not lead Middletown force on temporary basis

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 8/21/19

Steelton Borough Police Chief Anthony Minium has withdrawn from consideration as interim chief of the Middletown Police Department.

Minium and Steelton Mayor Maria Marcinko both Wednesday morning …

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'He is out' — Steelton police chief will not lead Middletown force on temporary basis

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Steelton Borough Police Chief Anthony Minium has withdrawn from consideration as interim chief of the Middletown Police Department.

Minium and Steelton Mayor Maria Marcinko both Wednesday morning confirmed to the Press & Journal Minium’s decision to withdraw.

“As far as Steelton borough goes and Chief Minium, he is out. It’s done,” Marcinko said.

Both were reached following Tuesday’s meeting of Middletown Borough Council, where Council President Angela Lloyd in an opening statement said that on Monday night, “The borough of Steelton and Chief Minium withdrew from any consideration to provide the borough of Middletown with any type of oversight. We would like to thank them for their forthrightness.”

Lloyd said “no deal” had been presented to council and “no offer was made to Chief Minium.” She repeated her earlier public statement that “no decision would be made without discussions with the police association professionals and residents.”

The announcements followed weeks of rumors and speculation regarding unconfirmed discussions between Middletown and Steelton officials concerning a deal where Minium would be brought in to lead the Middletown department on a temporary basis.

Word that such discussions were taking place broke publicly July 16, when just a few hours before that night’s Middletown council meeting a post on the Facebook page of the Middletown Borough Police Officers Association urged residents “come out” to the council meeting, in response to the association learning that the “topic” of contracting out the borough’s police department to another municipality had “resurfaced.”

Mayor James H. Curry III following the July 16 council meeting would not confirm, or deny, that he or Middletown had been engaged in talks with Steelton concerning the Middletown police department.

However, Curry said he would “listen to a proposal from anyone, including Steelton” regarding the providing of police services in Middletown.

Curry’s counterpart, Marcinko in Steelton, when first contacted by the Press & Journal following the July 16 council meeting in Middletown said that she had no knowledge of any discussions occurring regarding police between Steelton and Middletown.

But in the intervening weeks between then and now, Marcinko said she had pursued the issue “with vigor,” including holding discussions with her own police officers on the subject.

Marcinko told the Press & Journal that after learning Middletown was considering hiring Minium as an interim chief for a 120-day period, she also held discussions with Minium.

Marcinko said she told Minium she would not stand in the way of him accepting the job.

However, after discussing the issue over the past few weeks Marcinko said she and Minium had concluded that “we felt it is not … in his best interest for him” to accept the position of interim police chief in Middletown, “so he withdrew his name for consideration.”

Minium in a statement emailed to the Press & Journal said that “When the opportunity presented itself to help out a neighboring jurisdiction, I was open to the idea.”

“I felt that I could be of assistance to the residents of Middletown by bringing financial responsibilty to the police department while building a rapport with the Middletown community. After discussing this opportunity in detail with Mayor Marcinko, we decided that this was not in the best interest for the borough of Steelton or myself. I look forward to working with the borough of Middletown and the police department as we move forward from this opportunity.”

Curry in his own prepared statement called Lloyd’s opening statement on behalf of council “a complete disappointment to me.”

“Since taking office in 2014, I have continually pledged to approach each and every issue facing Middletown borough with objectivity. Transparency does not equate to stifling creative thought. Rather, transparency dictates that when an idea or an option actually comes to fruition, it be presented, considered and debated. Unfortunately we never reached that stage with Chief Minium.”

Curry noted how the Middletown department since August 2018 has been led on an interim basis by Sgt. Dennis Morris, the senior sergeant of the department, whom Curry asked to take over after Chief George Mouchette was charged with sexual assault in Dauphin County Court.

Mouchette since then is still officially the borough’s permanent police chief, but has been suspended without pay since he was charged. He is scheduled for plea court on Sept. 23.

Curry said that Morris “did not ask to be appointed interim chief” and was “thrust unexpectedly into that role.”

The mayor later in his statement said that Morris “has asked to be removed as interim chief countless times.”

However, the Middletown police association in Aug. 6 post on its Facebook page said that Morris “has sent a letter to the mayor and borough council that he would gladly continue in this role continuing to serve the community until they could do a search” for a full-time chief.

Curry in his statement said that “It is crucial the citizens of Middletown have confidence in their first responders. That is why personnel issues are handled privately with solicitor guidance. Airing dirty laundry would be counterproductive to instilling the confidence in the force. The same type of confidentiality is expected when considering non-disciplinary personnel matters. That did not happen here.”

“The Middletown borough police department needs professional leadership. In light of that need, I believe holding a conversation with Steelton borough concerning professional oversight of the Middletown Borough Police Department for a limited time at a limited cost was not only worthwhile, but also my fiduciary obligation.”