MIDDLETOWN, Va. -
The search is over for the next Middletown Police Chief.
The township council voted on Monday at a special meeting to appoint Gary Benedict, Jr. as its top cop.
The former interim chief resigned after holding the position for two months. The new chief comes from Avon, New York and with more than 35 years of experience working law enforcement.
Middletown Mayor Charles Harbaugh IV said he’s looking forward to working with the new chief.
Benedict, Jr. will start on July 1.
Middletown is close to naming its next Police Chief, according to reports.
Middletown Mayor Charles Harbaugh IV told WHAG's Shaheed Morris that the hiring is imminent.
The interim Middletown Police Chief resigned after holding position for two months.
Frederick County Sheriff Lenny Millholland has been filling in as an interim until a new chief has been hired.
Action taken during Monday night’s town council meeting in Middletown is making waves in the small community.
After town leaders voted to not reappoint the police chief, most of the other officers decided to quit as well.
Now, many residents, including a former mayor, are speaking out against the decision.
The parking lot at Middletown Town Hall was fairly empty on Tuesday in the wake of the council’s decision to not reappoint Police Chief Philip Breeden.
All but two members of the police department then resigned, but officials said the shortage will not impact safety.
“The town will be covered 24/7 until we can fill those vacancies and will not need as much assistance from the Sheriff’s Office anymore,” said Interim Chief Warren Houde, Middletown Police Department.
“My personnel will be here just like they have 365 days prior to this and in the past. We patrol this,” said Sheriff Lenny Millholland, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.
Town Council members said they acted within their power to not reappoint Breeden on Monday, but they didn’t give a specific reason for their actions.
The city manager wished the former chief well but declined to comment further.
“Mayor Harbaugh stated that he was thankful for Breeden’s years of service, and we wish him well. The town does not otherwise comment on personnel matters,” said Rebecca Layman, Middletown Town Manager.
Former Mayor Mark Brown, who has worked closely with council members, said Breeden was actually fired on Thursday afternoon.
“On Thursday, this past Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon, without any forewarning at all, they went into his office and said, ‘You’re done.”” Brown said.
Middletown Council said that Breeden was not reappointed for “cause” but could not elaborate at this time.
Despite being thrown into the job during a chaotic period for the department, Houde is optimistic about the future.
“I see a great potential in the town, and I see a lot of positive things moving forward from this point,” Houde said.
Although, in Brown’s opinion, the council set off a chain reaction that could potentially hurt the community.
“What they have done now is left this community very nervous. We’ve lost the longtime chief of police. We’ve lost our department,” Brown said.
Brown said he contacted Virginia General Attorney Mark Herring’s Office to investigate the council’s decision.