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Mayor: Former police chief was mum about missing equipment

Written by Becky Metrick, Public Opinion Online | Apr 4, 2016 4:46 PM
chambersburg borough hall.jpg (600x340)

(Chambersburg) -- In light of a criminal investigation into missing police equipment, Chambersburg's mayor is placing the blame on the former police chief as to why it was not revealed sooner that the equipment was lost.

Mayor Darren Brown defended his and the Chambersburg Police Department's actions on News Talk 103.7 FM about missing night vision goggles after borough council Vice President Heath Talhelm said the department and mayor took too long to bring the issue to council's attention.

He said former Police Chief Dave Arnold, who left the department at the beginning of this year, failed to inform anyone that the equipment was missing.

Arnold could not be reached for comment on this story.

During Friday's broadcast, Brown said, not only were proper protocols followed with alerting council, but the issue stemmed more from not being told about the issue to begin with.

"When the team was disbanded the equipment was supposed to be returned. From time to time I would go to the chief of police and I would say, 'Is the equipment turned back,' and it was like, 'no no no' and finally at the end of 2015 I got 'Yes, it's returned,'" Brown said on air.

The goggles were on lease from the South Central Task Force and expected to be returned upon the disbanding of the Chambersburg Police Special Emergency Team in 2014. In light of the equipment missing, council members voted 9-1 during Monday's council meeting to reimburse the cost of the goggles to the task force at a cost of $4,783.

When Arnold left office, Sgt. Rick Morrissette took his place in the interim, Brown said. Shortly after, Brown said he received a letter from South Central Task Force notifying him that some of the equipment was still missing.

Brown told Public Opinion that Arnold left on Jan. 8, and he received the letter from South Central Task Force in late January or early February. He said he immediately took the issue to Morrissette, who began working on tracking down the equipment.

Brown said on the radio he believed Talhelm was "speaking from ignorance," despite having been given a timeline previously.

"The process of informing council isn't immediate," Brown said on air. He had to inform Morrissette, try to handle it with police, then consulted with Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill before approaching council about it when it came to needing to pay South Central Task Force.

Brown said Friday council was told about the issue two weeks ago during an executive session.

Friday, Talhelm said while "That's his story" about the way Brown found out about the missing goggles, he added he did ask Brown questions about the situation, but Brown was reluctant to answer.

Through all of this, Brown said on air that Morrissette has done an amazing job of dealing with, not only with the goggle issue, but with other things that they found unaccounted for when he took the interim chief position.

"I'm not saying they were stolen. I'm just saying, well we don't have documentation," Brown said, "Well what's the serial number for this and where does this go? We kinda had a lot of things and they weren't necessarily documented and he has gone through with a fine-toothed comb."

Morrissette is continuing to go through and inventory all of CPD's equipment.

"As soon as he found out about this and any inaccuracies with records, he's been right on it," Brown said on air.

Brown said Friday he doesn't know when the goggles are believed to have gone missing and additional details are part of the ongoing state police investigation.

Becky Metrick 717-262-4762

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between Public Opinion Online and WITF. 

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