Smyrna votes to implement police department changes

SMYRNA — Yet undisclosed policy and procedure changes are coming to the Smyrna Police Department after more than a year of internal turmoil and outside investigations, Town Council announced Wednesday night in a news release.

Elected officials evaluated findings from a taxpayer-funded $30,000 independent investigation by Blackwood, New Jersey-based Protocol Security Partners and unanimously accepted “numerous recommendations as to how to improve the Police Department’s communications, policies and procedures.”

Town Council said “it is now in the process of implementing those recommendations by, among other things, revising the Police Department’s Mission Statement and website to reflect the organization’s leadership philosophy and values, authorizing a review of the Police Department’s current policies and procedures, and taking steps to improve the communications of the Police Department both internally and externally with the community at large.”

Town Council said it notified the Smyrna Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 22 of its determinations. The police officers union lodged complaints with Town Council in July 2016 following a “no confidence” vote of Chief Norman Wood.

Media attempts to reach Mayor John L. Embert III for further comment and details were unsuccessful Thursday, and it remained unclear who was reviewing and revising police policies and procedures and if changes would be released to the public.

Acting Town Manager Gary Stulir responded by saying, “I haven’t been involved in the investigation, review or the resolution. So, I am unable to address or provide further comment to your questions.”

Norman Wood

The Smyrna Police Department operates under the town council and in coordination with the town manager, according to the northern Kent County town’s official website at www.smyrna.delaware.gov.

Attempts to reach the police union for a reaction Thursday were unsuccessful.

Chief Wood declined comment on Thursday.

The news release reported that Town Council “has also communicated that the Town will continue to respond promptly and effectively to all employment-related complaints as it has always done so.”

The independent investigation confirmed earlier Delaware Attorney General’s office findings in late March that no criminal activity had taken place, and Town Council said “the report does not contain any suggestion that any Town employee has engaged in any action or omission that has compromised public safety.”

Smyrna officials said results of the PSP report received Sept. 15 would not be released publicly “regarding this confidential employee investigation and also cannot divulge attorney-client communications, (but) we do believe it is important to apprise the public generally as to the outcome of this investigation.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.