Reaffirming Tinicum Township’s commitment to its police force in no uncertain terms, Board of Supervisors Chair Jim Helms told an anxious crowd of two dozen residents at the July 14 public board meeting that supervisors had “never discussed or even brought up at all” consideration of defunding or disbanding their police force.
Supervisors then approved the appointment of Officer Nicole Madden as acting chief, to warm applause, and with a hint of their intent to consider eventually removing the “acting” part of her new title.
Former Chief Matt Phelan left as of July 9 to serve in a similar capacity for Bedminster Township.
Helms’ statement, at the outset of the meeting, was in response to deep concern apparently generated by a resident’s published newspaper opinion piece, as well as discussion on social media. He also noted that the supervisors “are the only ones who have responsibility for personnel decisions and township management,” and that it was “great to have strong community support for their police,” through the Tinicum Township Police Foundation and otherwise.
In a question and answer session following Madden’s appointment, supervisors explained that when then Officer Phelan replaced Jim Sabath two years ago, also as acting chief, they left total police personnel at four, after due consideration that coverage would be adequate at that level, and the savings used to help fund various township “budget increases.”
Asked if they would now be leaving staffing at three, they said consideration had not yet had a chance to begin, by law, and that it would be especially informed by a comprehensive review by Madden, as they had done with Phelan.
In his last year or so, Sabath had also been functioning as township manager, in place of the departed full-time township manager, with Treasurer Teri Lewis eventually adding that role. Supervisors noted that all this was going on while the township had not seen a tax increase for the last nine years.
Asked if township police had sufficient pay, benefits, and working conditions, supervisors noted they were currently working under a three-year negotiated contract, with negotiations for a new contract to start soon. Numerous residents expressed deep appreciation for their police force.
Madden joined the Tinicum force in 2008, after serving Dublin Borough for a year. She attended the Temple University Police Academy, and has an associate degree in criminal justice.
The Tinicum Township Police Foundation has raised funds for equipment, training, and other needs, supplementing the township budget. It serves as a vehicle for tax-exempt gifts and grants from individuals, businesses, and philanthropies.