Judge: Middletown officer’s grievance can continue

MIDDLETOWN — A Middletown police officer supposedly failed to receive due process in a disciplinary action, and a judge denied the defendant town’s motion to dismiss in an eight-page order decided last week.

Officer Jeffrey L. Stump and his counsel were not “provided the opportunity at a hearing to hear and cross examine witnesses against him, to call witnesses on his behalf, or to present evidence in his defense,” Superior Court Judge Calvin L. Scott determined.

“Without such an opportunity, the procedure afforded Stump remains deficient.”

The town initially decided to demote Officer Stump two ranks to Master Corporal due to possible violations of police department rules and regulations, the order stated, which included a drop in pay and one-year probationary status.

After the officer field a grievance, according to the judge, the town’s mayor and council opted to reinstate Officer Stump as a sergeant, a drop of only one rank. The officer’s request to appeal the decision was denied.

Officer Stump alleged that he was not afforded a sufficient hearing, and requested an order that defendants Criminal Justice Council, Town of Middletown and the Mayor of Middletown “provide an adequate hearing prior to the imposition of any disciplinary action as required by” Delaware Code, the opinion noted.

The defendants argued that the Middletown Police collective bargaining agreement showed that grievances should be enforced through the town’s personnel policy manual.

“Middletown argues Stump was afforded full due process and has now exhausted his avenues for appeal,” according to the Court.

Judge Scott found, however, that the town’s actions failed to meet requirements under the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.

The matter was submitted to the Court on June 28. Attorney John S. Malik represented Officer Stump, with Deputy Attorney General Rae M. Mims arguing for the CJC and attorney Scott G. Wilcox speaking for the Town of Middletown, Mayor Kenneth L. Branner and Police Chief Michael Iglio.

Staff writer Craig Anderson can be reached at 741-8296 or canderson@newszap.com.


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