Middletown police chief: Dallas shootings impact local officers

Middletown police chief: Dallas shootings impact local officers photo
Middletown Police Officer Earl Nelson (center) takes part in the discussion at the first of three dialogue series, “Hope Beyond Ferguson,” in 2015 at Miami University Middletown. At left is Middletown Police Officer Holly Owens and at right is Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw.
Middletown police chief: Dallas shootings impact local officers photo
Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw
Middletown police chief: Dallas shootings impact local officers photo
Middletown Police officer Earl Nelson takes a minute to shoot some hoops in 2012 with a young boy as he patrols the Sherman Park area in Middletown.

By Rick McCrabb

Staff Writer


In a Facebook message posted just after five Dallas police officers were killed, Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw addressed the situations in Baton Rouge and St. Paul.

Saying “these situations have weighed on me heavily,” Muterspaw wrote, “It is easy for everyone to sit back and second guess the shootings and the police response when it comes to an event like this, but it is hard to watch these particular videos and not have a thousand questions. As someone who has taken calls just like that, my emotions ranged from anger to sadness to frustration.”

“Now tonight police officers in Dallas have been shot and killed at a protest of these shootings. What purpose does that serve?” he wrote.

Muterspaw wrote that police “work in one of the few professions where something can happen 2,000 miles away and it affects us here on a daily basis.”

Muterspaw said the Middletown Police Department has been “very fortunate” to not have to deal with many officer-involved shootings.

If that situation did happen, the department would “seek outside investigation assistance. We would enlist the aid of the Butler County Prosecutor and most likely BCI (Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation). I believe for an investigation of that magnitude to be credible you have to hand it off to someone who is not you. We believe in transparency and to have that, you have to ask someone else ask to investigate something that serious,” Muterspaw said.

Police agencies across the country must focus on training, he said.

“Seems every time there is a budget cut, training is the first to go,” he wrote.

That, however, will not happen in Middletown, according to Muterspaw.

“Last year we attended a Cultural Competency training — it wasn’t about black and white. It was about everyone’s differences and biases and how they affect your day to day thinking. Everyone is different and for some reason some can’t understand that — and I am talking about civilians and police officers. Our goal here is to get everyone in Cultural Competency training — although a lot have been. We have a diverse police department and we are proud of that. I really believe it makes us better. We embrace it.”

The department has been focused on building relationships across the city, he said, including itsHope Beyond Ferguson sessions, Midnight Basketball, Latino Community dinners, Coffee with A Cop, Clergy and Community Meetings and more, according to Muterspaw.

“We are part of Middletown, not a separate entity. No law abiding community member should ever fear the police in this city,” he wrote.

The department will host Coffee with a Cop next week and National Night Out in August.

This morning, Muterspaw sent a message to all his officers. He told them to support each other and take additional precautions during calls. He wants his officers to cover for each other, even if that means delaying response to a non-emergency call.

“It’s a dangerous job,” he said. “You saw that last night.”