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Charges against police chief have Springdale mayor crying foul

Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
New Springdale Borough police Chief Julio F. Medeiros III talks about his history after being sworn in on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013.

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Who: Springdale Council

What: Special meeting on charges against police Chief Julio Medeiros III

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 12

Where: Springdale Borough Building, 325 School St.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014, 12:56 a.m.
 

After less than a year on the job, Springdale's police chief could be reprimanded, suspended or fired after a special borough council meeting next week.

Council is scheduled to meet Wednesday to consider the results of a hearing held on charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and “intemperance” filed against police Chief Julio Medeiros III.

The charges stem from borough office staff overhearing some “not so nice language” from a discussion in Medeiros' office, Mayor Ken Lloyd said on Wednesday.

The borough hired Medeiros in May, and he was sworn into office in late October. He has remained on-duty since the accusations were levied in mid-February.

Under the state borough code, intemperance and conduct unbecoming are among the reasons for which a police officer can be suspended without pay, demoted or fired.

“This is a frivolous claim. This is a frivolous charge,” Lloyd said. “I'm not accepting any punishment for the chief. He did nothing wrong.”

Medeiros could not be reached for comment. The name of the attorney who represented Medeiros at the hearing, which was not open to the public, was not known.

Council President David Finley said he scheduled the meeting on the advice of borough Solicitor Craig Alexander, who is also the borough's labor attorney.

Alexander did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

A special meeting for the same purposes had been scheduled for Saturday afternoon. That meeting was canceled. Several residents came out for it anyway — some to support Medeiros.

The charges stem from a closed-door council meeting on Feb. 14 and were detailed in a letter dated Feb. 18, Lloyd said.

The mayor said borough office staff overheard a private meeting in Medeiros' office that included the chief and Finley with Lloyd on speaker phone. Lloyd could not immediately recall the date of the meeting. The conversation was overheard from the chief's office in the back of the building to the borough offices in the front because the walls are “very thin,” Lloyd said.

“They're charging the chief with being loud in his office and ... some alleged not-so-nice language,” the mayor said.

Lloyd said Mederios was upset because a person, a vendor, had been let into his office while he was not there. The discussion was about who had allowed that to happen.

But Lloyd said it was not the chief who was overheard swearing.

“The language they heard was (from) me,” he said. “I was upset. I was outraged.”

Since Lloyd was elected as a write-in for mayor in November, he and council have clashed repeatedly over the police department. Lloyd has argued that as mayor, he is in charge of the department; council has maintained it controls the “purse strings.”

While Medeiros was ostensibly hired to rebuild the borough's police department, Lloyd said some council members are resisting the changes he wants to make.

“It is my opinion that this is a witch hunt,” Lloyd said. “It is a railroad job.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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