From The Tribune-Review by Brian C. Rittmeyer, March 13, 2014
No disciplinary action will be taken against Springdale police Chief Julio Medeiros after an incident in which borough office staff say they overheard obscene language booming from his office, according to his attorney.
Medeiros had been charged with conduct unbecoming an officer and intemperance after the incident in January. The chief could have been reprimanded, suspended or fired.
Instead, a letter will be sent to the police department advising officers to watch their language, Councilman Jason Fry said.
“That’s all we need to do,” Fry said. “We can move on.”
About 100 residents attended a special council meeting Wednesday about the chief. Most waited, albeit increasingly impatiently, for council to emerge from a two-hour private meeting with Medeiros and his attorney, John Stember.
Borough Solicitor Craig Alexander announced that a resolution had been made with Medeiros.
“We all agreed bad language is wrong in the workplace. We’re not going to condone that,” Alexander said.
“The goal of this council and this council president is for everybody to get along,” Alexander said. “That may or may not happen. That’s the goal.”
Council President David Finley said not all issues had been resolved. Chief among them is Medeiros’ job description, which Fry said is where the entire issue started and then spiraled out of control.
The issue revolves around whether Medeiros is a “working chief,” who patrols like any other officer, or if he is strictly an administrator. Details of a job description are being negotiated.
“We are working on it was we speak,” Councilman Michael Ziencik said.
Medeiros was hired last year to clean up a police department that had been rocked by instances of personal and professional officer misconduct, which resulted in one officer being sent to prison and two others being forced off the police force.
Councilman John Molnar said four women who work in the borough’s office heard foul and demeaning language from 60 feet away, from one side of the borough building to the other. That the language was used was not denied, he said.
“A police officer is supposed to lead by example. He’s held to a higher standard. He works with our children,” Molnar said. “I hope this language isn’t repeated, ever.”
Both Medeiros and Mayor Ken Lloyd, who was involved in the meeting on speaker phone, apologized for their behavior. The chief accepted responsibility.
Medeiros said he has been dealing with stress and frustration that has taken a toll on him and his family since he came to Springdale late last year. The meeting in his office, he said, became heated.
“I’m not a perfect man,” Medeiros said. “I was upset at that meeting. For that, I’m sorry.
“We have to be aware of our surroundings,” he said.
Social media’s role criticized, lauded
Finley bemoaned the role social media played in the issue, saying its use had hurt both sides. He said nasty and untrue things were being said about borough office employees, and that residents were exhibiting “a lack of knowledge” about what was going on.
“The social media routine is out of control,” he said. “It’s irresponsible, and it’s irresponsible for both sides.”
Residents, however, argued social media had brought them together. Nearly 100 residents have joined a Facebook group, “Springdale Residents Supporting Chief Julio Medeiros,” in less than two weeks.
Jolie Carnahan-Girondi said she created the group because of her love of Springdale and support for the chief. While Finley said he does not use social media sites such as Facebook, Carnahan-Girondi said it’s how people ages 20 to 40 communicate.
“I created a forum for people to discuss and get involved,” she said. “We need to get involved. We need to know what’s going on.”
While borough officials were meeting privately, Carnahan-Girondi momentarily commandeered the meeting and spoke to the audience.
She faulted council for how they treat each other, the mayor and the chief.
“It’s not working, folks,” she said.
But she also noted that less than a quarter of borough residents voted in the last election and council candidates ran unopposed.
“We need to get involved. It’s our future,” she said.
She encouraged residents to register to vote, attend council meetings and “save this precious town.
“It still can be a precious town,” she said.