Middletown planning to add more police officers in 2021: What to know about the budget

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Middletown will see a leaner public safety budget in 2021 but expects to add more police officers on the streets.

The largest part of the city’s budget is in public safety, said City Manager Jim Palenick. Middletown City Council will consider the city’s entire budget at its Nov. 3 meeting with an anticipated approval at its Nov. 17 meeting.

Palenick presented his first public safety budget to Middletown City Council on Tuesday, and it will see a 3% reduction, or about $714,723, in 2021 The 2021 proposed public safety budget was listed at $23.12 million.

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Of that amount, the Division of Police will see a 2021 budget of $13.25 million, which will be a 1.7% decrease from the $13.48 million budgeted for 2020.

The Division of Fire will see a 2021 budget of $9.87 million, which will be down 4.7% from the 2020 budget of $10.35 million.

Palenick said 26 payroll periods in 2021, down from 27 payrolls in 2020, will add savings. Retirements will allow the city to hire employees at entry-level salaries.

In his presentation, Palenick said the city plans to add two new Community Oriented Police officers that will be partially funded by a previously approved COPS grant. A third police officer position is planned when Maj. Scott Reeve, a deputy chief, retires in 2021.

In addition, Palenick said the city plans to eliminate one deputy chief’s position as part of a reorganization of the Division of Police.

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Police officials said their major initiatives include reorganizing the police administration, seeking to reduce use-of-force situations and citizen complaints against officers and exploring identification as a High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area for increase state and federal funding for narcotics operations.

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Officials said the fire department plans to focus on stabilizing staff, reducing opioid overdoses by 10% in cooperation with other organizations, adopting fees for some services, implementing a radio replacement program and developing a facility plan that includes four new fire stations.

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