Closings & Delays

‘It’s a scary concept to know that you have a shift that doesn’t have your hometown police.’

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MIDDLETOWN BOROUGH, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. -- Imagine a police department with no police officers on duty, that's exactly the position a Dauphin County force found itself in recently.

The Middletown Borough Police Department has 16 officers, including the chief, but the department still came up short.

In the meantime, the police have a plan to keep people safe.

The Middletown Borough police chief called it the perfect storm, an officer out sick, another out on workman's comp, and a third out on administrative leave.

It all happened at the same time, leaving the police station without an officer on duty for a weekend shift.

Their job is to serve and protect, but Middletown police found itself without anyone to do either, one recent Saturday .

Of the borough’s crime, Middletown resident Carole Velazquez said "robberies, or somebody stealing somebody's wallet or their purse."

"The city's fairly quiet, and if there's any crime, it's low key," Velazquez added.

Middletown Borough police chief John Bey said "it's a scary concept to know that you have a shift that doesn't have your hometown police, but keep in mind it's not like the borough was without police services totally."

In an emergency, many of us turn to the police for help, but some may wonder where do the police turn for assistance when there aren't any officers on duty.

"We have mutual aid agreements with other neighboring police departments, to come in if we're short, or we don't have a particular shift covered as well as the PSP. They come in and they cover for us," Chief Bey said.

On the surface, it appears as though the streets of the borough of about 9,000 people, are relatively quiet.

"It's a nice slice of Americana here, but we're no different than any other community. We have our issues with respect to drugs and burglaries, and thefts, and things that come along with drugs," Chief Bey said.

With no one to drive them, these patrol cars could sit idle, sirens silenced, and warning lights dimmed, but that doesn't mean crime gets a free ride in Middletown.

"This is a safe community. Don't get it twisted. To the bad guys, don't think that we're running so thin that they can come down here and do what they want, they come down here and commit crimes. You're going to be arrested," Chief Bey said.

Middletown Borough Mayor James Curry said if they as a borough want to have their own, local police force, something's got to give. Everyone will have to pay for it.

Curry said the borough did give the police chief the OK to hire another officer. Whether residents believe 10 full-time, and five part-time officers is enough for their community is to be determined.

Budget issues, as well as the borough's first tax increase in about ten years, will be discussed at council meetings this summer.

Dauphin County police regionalization is another possible solution to the officer shortage.

A study was completed to determine how the county's 17 police departments could work together as one.

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