Yorktowne Hotel buzzes with activity as opening day nears

Ahead of confirmation, two York City Council members praise Muldrow

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Mike Muldrow, York City School District's police chief, is an organizer for the York United Plate Patrol, located at William Penn High School Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019. In its third year, the program is a collaboration of several York County police agencies and the York City School District. Volunteers prepare, pack and deliver Thanksgiving meals to York Countians who call in a request. Bill Kalina photo

Most members of York City Council would not say whether they're backing Michael Muldrow as the city's next police commissioner, but Muldrow's nomination as of Wednesday seemed to have secured two of the three votes necessary for confirmation. 

The City Council is expected to hold a confirmation vote Oct. 20 on Mayor Michael Helfrich's nominee to replace outgoing Commissioner Osborne "Moe" Robinson III, whose resignation last week appeared to take council members — and city residents — by surprise.

Three members of the five-member City Council must support the nomination for Muldrow to be confirmed. 

Council members Sandie Walker and Lou Rivera spoke highly of Muldrow. Council members Edquina Washington and Judy Ritter-Dickson did not respond to calls. And Council President Henry Nixon declined comment when reached Tuesday.

“I’ve known him for years,” Walker said. “He’s always had a heart for our community. He’s a great guy. I think he’ll be able to bring some unity between our community and our police department."

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

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

Rivera, one of three council members to criticize Helfrich this past week because they weren't briefed about Robinson's resignation, echoed that Muldrow could restore some public trust in the York City Police Department.

“I think it’s a great choice,” Rivera said. “My hope is that Commissioner Muldrow brings some healing not only to our city, but our police department, which is in desperate need of that in this time.”

Muldrow, who serves as the police chief for the York City School District, was nominated for the post Monday following a tumultuous several days caused by the announcement of Robinson's pending departure after just nine months in the job.

Robinson's salary was $115,000, which he will continued to be paid through Jan. 15, based on his severance agreement.

Helfrich declined Tuesday to speculate about how council members might vote, but he said he hoped they would agree that Muldrow is more than qualified to lead the department.

"I've gotten more than 99% positive feedback (on the nomination)," Helfrich said.

After Helfrich's Monday announcement, support for Muldrow flowed in on social media platforms, with city residents congratulating Muldrow for the nomination and praising his character.

And with the nomination taking place amid national racial unrest over the deaths of Black people at the hands of police, York NAACP president Sandra Thompson said Muldrow was the right pick.

“I’ve known that (Muldrow) has been long overlooked as an African American male in policing,” Thompson said. “I know the community will give him the support because he is a son of York, and we as a community need to make sure he has the backing of the community to have the strength to tell the administration and police union ‘no’ when appropriate.”

Muldrow's public safety career began as a corrections officer at York County Prison before he joined the York City Police Department in 2000.

Over the years, he also has served as a federal officer for the U.S. Department of Defense Police Department and as an officer at police departments throughout the county.

This past year, Mudrow was a finalist to replace former York City Police Chief Troy Bankert, Hefrich has said. Instead, Robinson was plucked for the job. 

Muldrow has served as the city school district's chief for the past 12 years.

ShaiQuana Mitchell, spokesperson for the York City School District, praised Muldrow and said the school district supports his nomination.

"Mike Muldrow is a pillar in the district community, as well as the community at large. We are excited for him and his new journey," she said. "As a district employee, he always displayed passion, with a spirit of safety and service."

York City Mayor Michael Helfrich is joined by York City Police Chief Osborne "Moe" Robinson III, left, during a rally at Continental Square Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Protesters gathered in the city for a second straight day calling for justice after George Floyd died after an altercation with Minneapolis police officers. Over 1,000 people attended the rally. Bill Kalina photo

Despite enthusiasm about Muldrow, tensions between City Council and Helfrich's administration were alive and well this past week after council members accused the mayor of cutting them out of the Robinson situation. 

Helfrich had said the lack of information was because of ongoing negotiations to work out language for a severance agreement. Then, on Tuesday, he and Robinson revealed the commissioner resigned due to a "strategic career position," not because he was unhappy.

The two also shot down allegations in their joint statement that Robinson had been financially irresponsible in his less than one year as police commissioner.

In the past week, Nixon 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.

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.

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