BREAKING NEWS: Chester police post public letter, vow to work with sheriff, become better department

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By Travis Jenkins

The Chester Police Department has authored a letter to the community addressing recent issues and concerns.

At Monday’s meeting of Chester City Council, there was a lengthy discussion of officer retention within the department. Given recent defections, command staff is already having to work patrol shifts. Additionally, Chief Tammy Levister announced her resignation last Friday. Some modification of the take-home vehicle policy was discussed, but it was not voted on. Acting Chief Travis Moore said he was formulating a plan to increase pay by shifting roles and positions within the department. At one point, Councilman William “Budda” Killian said it was his understanding that fellow Councilman Carlos Williams had been meeting with the sheriff’s department about “handing the city police over to the county.” Williams said that was not the case. He said he had met with Sheriff Alex Underwood, but it was related to ways the police and sheriff’s department could foster a better relationship and work together more effectively, perhaps in a way that could result in some cost savings for the city. The police moved out of the Chester County Law Enforcement Center and into City Hall in 2015, citing a conflict with the sheriff’s office. Mayor George W. Caldwell called the current situation “shameful” saying the city bypasses asking the sheriff’s department for assistance. Caldwell said everyone needed to work together.

The council also spoke negatively on a job recently created by City Administrator Sandi Worthy (see related story), a “recruiting and standards” position. Council members said they objected to the position on a number of fronts but Worthy said it was necessary to create the position to improve training in the department and to develop ways to keep officers from leaving for better-paying positions elsewhere. Some officers have since refuted the claims about their level of training made by Worthy, specifically her assertion that officers learned to dust for fingerprints from a YouTube video. One officer actually brought their training certifications to the News & Reporter to demonstrate their high level of training.

In the wake of all the activity in the past week, the police department posted a public letter on Facebook Wednesday afternoon…

“The Chester Police Department would like to express a sincere gratitude to all citizens who have been concerned with the department.  The Chester Police Department is still standing strong and firm.  Our Department has been informed several times that we will work hand in hand with the Chester County Sheriff’s Office.  We will assist them whenever and wherever they need us.  As a law enforcement community, both departments have officers with families that they both want to return home to each day and each night.  We are actively bridging the gap to become a better department for each of you.  The Chester Police Department does not get involved in politics and will forever remain neutral in that aspect.  The Department is still trying to move forward from past and present events that have occurred.  In moving forward, we are looking at some different things such as take home vehicles, overtime payment and a salary increase.  We want the best for the citizens of Chester.  An example of moving forward is take home vehicles.  For instance, you as a citizen had a tragedy at your home and the department needed a perimeter that may require many officers.  Many officers would have to get dressed at home and come to City Hall to pick up their police interceptors before coming to your home.  This is one of the reasons that we are asking for this as an action item.  Time is of the essence when searching for a suspect.  We want to move forward with those action items because it will attract officers to this community to better serve and protect you, the citizens, in this community.  Just remember that one bad apple does not spoil the bunch.  What we are trying to do is shave the parts that are bad on the apple, and mold, transform and equip them with what they need to become a quality officer in this community.  We want to encourage you all that if you have questions or concerns to stop by the office so that we can assist you and get you the answers that you deserve.”