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There's nothing sketchy about departure, Helfrich and Robinson say

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
York City Police Commissioner Osborne Robinson, left, and York City Mayor Michael Helfrich stand together as more than 1,000 participate in the York Black Lives Matter Peaceful Protest in York City, Tuesday, June 2, 2020. It would be the second day of larger scale protests in the city following the death of George Floyd, a Minnesota man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, Mn., on May 25. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Former York City Police Commissioner Osborne "Moe" Robinson III resignation was a "strategic career decision" and allegations that he mismanaged the department are false, according to a joint statement issued Tuesday from Robinson and Mayor Michael Helfrich.

Robinson was "happy" with his job, Helfrich and Robinson wrote. The two also dismissed allegations Robinson was financially irresponsible, something City Council President Henry Nixon suggested last week, saying he had become "disenchanted" with Robinson. 

Robinson first expressed his "verbal intent" to resign on Sept. 30 and subsequently submitted his letter of resignation, according to the statement.

"Commissioner Robinson has made the decision to resign not because he is unhappy with the opportunities presented to him throughout his tenure, but as a strategic career decision," the statement read. "It has been Commissioner Robinson’s’ pleasure to work with the Mayor, the York City Police Department, and most of all the citizens of the City of York."

More:Helfrich nominates Muldrow as York City Council rips his handling of police situation

More:Mayor: York City's police commissioner to resign

For the past week, city officials had been working to finalize a severance agreement and declined to offer any details of his resignation. On Monday, Helfrich nominated Michael Muldrow, police chief for the York City School District, to replace him.

Robinson, with a salary of $115,000, will continue to be paid through Jan. 15 as a part of the severance agreement, which would essentially mark a year after he was first brought on board as the city's top cop.

“Separation agreements for executive-level positions are part of standard human resources practices and can often take weeks to complete,” said Philip Given, Helfrich’s chief of staff. “This is a personnel matter, and I wouldn’t comment further.”

In the joint statement Tuesday, Helfrich and Robinson also rebuffed claims that Robinson was financially irresponsible, though they didn't mention who made the claims.

In the past week, Nixon, though, expressed concerns that Robinson spent excessive amounts of money on new furniture for his office and denied a number of various training requests for officers.

He also said Robinson brought in consultants who worked for Baltimore City Police at the same time Robinson worked there and that he was advised the consultants have questionable backgrounds.

In the letter, however, Helfrich and Robinson say that any office furniture was an approved line in the city's budget.

York City Police Commissioner Osborne "Moe" Robinson III as community members gather in Continental Square in peaceful protest for George Floyd, to remember those who have died at the hands of police and to celebrate the communication experienced throughout the week between community members and officials in York City, Friday, June 5, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

In addition, they wrote, fees paid to any Baltimore Police Department consultants were paid from the department's training budget. 

"These are the facts and the speculation surrounding Commissioner Robinson’s departure were serious enough to require correction," they wrote.

Nixon declined to comment on the matter, only saying that he wishes Robinson well.

York City Council members for the past week criticized Helfrich for not briefing them about Robinson's resignation.

Three City Council members on Monday criticized Helfrich's handling of the Robinson situation, including Edquina Washington, the chair of the city's Police and Fire Committee.

 "I heard about Commissioner Robinson’s resignation from a phone call received from a constituent," wrote council member Edquina Washington in a statement released Monday. "The lack of communication exhibited by the Mayor and the administration about this situation is extremely disappointing.”  

Council members Lou Rivera and Judy A. Ritter-Dickson also were included in the email statement, which criticized Helfrich for what they say is a lack of transparency.

Helfrich said he has since apologized to the three council members.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD