MIDDLETOWN - Have any seemingly minor concerns, observations or issues?
Don’t hesitate, just reach out to the Middletown Police Department. It’s OK.
That’s the message new police chief William Texter wants to impart on residents of an ever-growing municipality in southern New Castle County.
Contact the local law enforcement agency
“I think some people feel like they’re bothering us when calling about something and that’s not what I want,” Chief Texter said.
“I’d rather have you call us and we will take time to talk to you, it’s fine. And if it’s nothing, then OK, its nothing. I find that a lot of times people see things that are something and they just don’t feel comfortable for various reasons, but sometimes it’s ‘I just didn’t want to bother you’ and that’s not the kind of community we are.
“We are here to deal with the smallest of issues. We’re a full-service police department.”
That’s been the approach since the Middletown Police Department was founded in 2008, Chief Texter said. He joined the law enforcement agency shortly after it opened.
“We’re here to listen to you and work with you and that’s something we’re based on and were founded on,” he said. “From our standpoint, it’s important to our residents and visitors to the community that we’re here to work with you and there’s really no problem too small that we’re not willing to listen to.”
Chief Texter, 49, ascended to the role of the town’s top cop after previous chief Rob Kracyla retired effective Dec. 31, 2020. He served as acting chief before being quickly promoted by the mayor and town council to the permanent position.
Since taking charge, Chief Texter said he’s emphasized reaching out to various civic organizations and homeowners associations via Zoom meetings. There’s a longer term goal of establishing a strong relationship with the Appoquinimink School District. The MPD Youth Academy will restart and citizen police academies are on the horizon, he said.
Also, officers are assigned to four districts within the town to develop familiarity with residents and vice versa.
“The first thing I did (when taking the chief’s position) was shift back to a strong residential focus,” he said. “All of our officers are community police officers.”
Add it all up, Chief Texter said, and “We’re trying to look at it from a holistic standpoint, not just a singular go out and make an arrest. One of my major goals is to ensure we’re working from all sides, not just one side.
“We’re just one piece of the equation, not the only piece of the equation.”
Daily crime issues demand immediate attention as well, and Middletown isn’t immune to them. Arrests were made in two deadly shootings in 2020.
The biggest issue now, the police chief said, is an ongoing rash of motor vehicle thefts. Keys and fobs are being left in vehicles, which police said are often unlocked.
“It’s particularly challenging for us because they’ll take the vehicles back to the Wilmington area and sometimes they’re used in crimes or found in those areas,” Chief Texter said.
“It’s hard because they can come in and out. They can just jump out of a car, pull its doors and just drive away. So it’s very difficult for us to effectively enforce that, make an arrest on that because they’re in and out within a minute or two.”
The citizenry can help itself by taking its own security precautions, the chief said.
“Literally we need to be in the right place at the right time, which we’re still trying to do, but the bigger solution is hopefully the community will not leave their cars unlocked and keys in the car,” he said.
“Sometimes its by mistake and sometimes people have a comfort level in our community (due to) not being plagued by some of the more severe violence seen in Wilmington and some of the other areas.”
As Middletown continues to grow, so does the demand for services in all areas. While Chief Texter said elected officials are “supportive of growing the police department, (the) challenge right now is recruiting.
“It’s very difficult. It’s important that we hire the right people, the people who are going to perform to the standards that society expects of us and what the profession expects of us as well.”
Following meetings with officers and staff, Middletown Mayor Ken Branner said he sensed that “the morale was up in the department. They’ve come up with some very good ideas and I really feel good about where we are.
“Bill wants to do the right thing and is a very good person, and he has a good vision of what has to happen to make those ideas successful ... There’s a plan to utilize special units and increase training opportunities for officers and we as mayor and council are going to strongly support what they want to do.”