Delmar residents submit FOIA request to town

DELMAR, Del. – People gathered outside of Town Hall Monday night as a council meeting began. The Delmar residents held signs reading “Back the Blue” and “Fund the Police”. The point of the gathering was to ask for more answers on why Corporal Keith Heacook was alone when he answered that fatal call for help in April.

Meanwhile, residents submitted a Freedom of Information Act request with 18 items. Organizer and Delmar resident, Pam Price, says the purpose of this is to find out more information about how the town operates in terms of salary, and discussion held about police staffing problems. “We’re a fact finding group that’s just trying to figure out what’s wrong with our town,” said Price.

Among the items in the request, were meeting minutes, salaries for all department heads, and anything else that might help to answer those questions. Price points to the discrepancy in the salaries between some department heads and police personnel. For example, Price says in Delmar the salary for the police Chief is $78,578 – while the Town Manager makes $90,234.

Meanwhile, in nearby towns like Snow Hill, the Town Manager makes $70,016, and the police Chief earns $121,120. “It’s a whole lot of ‘he said, she said’. So, if we have the facts, which we’re supposed to have in 30 days, then we can sit down and really figure out why it works in Fruitland, why it works in Laurel, but it doesn’t work here in Delmar,” said Price.

Aside from figuring out how the town can better distribute the budget, Price says the point of all this is to find out what led up to Cpl. Keith Heacook being the only officer on duty on the night that he was brutally beaten by Randon Wilkerson. Price says until Delmar can raise the pay for police officers, she doubts the town will be able to recruit more law enforcement.

Price adds issues plaguing the police department stretch back 20 years, and now is the time to make a change. “This town deserves better than what we are seeing right now. It is disgusting what we are seeing in pay. What officers make – you can make at Walmart or Target. I mean, starting pay is not even $20 an hour. For someone to go out there and risk their life, I mean its really hard to get people to sign up for that,” said Price.

Now, the town of Delmar has 30 days to send back the information requested by residents. Price says that she and other residents are not taking no for an answer, and will be hiring a lawyer if necessary. “We’re not here to pick sides. We truly do want to make a difference, and we want there to be peace and harmony in our town. It’s just not there right now,” said Price.

Price says that she and other members of the group have full time jobs, and are often spending eight to ten hours a day just working on this. “It’s more than frustrating because it’s not just me. It’s a few other people who have full time jobs as well, and we’re all working – doing what we can to try to dissect the problem. It’s the Town Manager’s responsibility, and it says that in our Delmar town charter that they are responsible for how the police force functions,” said Price.

While all of this happening, Price says the silver lining is seeing how the community has pulled together to support each other and Cpl. Heacook’s family. “Our town is so amazing, and even when we did our fundraiser at the race track, we pulled it together in four days. It was so incredible that the race started like an hour and a half late because there were so many cars trying to get in,” said Price.

Categories: Delaware, Local News, Maryland