By Richard L. Gaw
Kennett Township Police Chief Albert McCarthy was awarded with a one-year contract extension in his current role, which will pay him $91,000 over the duration of the agreement, it was announced at the township's board of supervisors meeting on April 16. Township supervisors – Chairman Scudder Stevens and supervisors Robert Hammaker and Dr. Richard Leff all approved the agreement.
Under the general terms of the contract, McCarthy will continue to be responsible for the organization, operation and oversight of the police department. The contract spelled out the specifics of McCarthy's responsibilities, which requires him to submit an annual department budget, work a minimum of 40 hours a week, and be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to emergencies that may arise in the township.
McCarty will entitled to health, medical an dental benefits through the township's group health and dental plan; as well as receive three weeks' vacation, long-term disability; have access to two police vehicles; and be the recipient of a $100,000 life insurance policy paid for by the township.
Acknowledging that McCarthy also operates a part-time contracting business, the contract states that although it will not restrict McCarthy's other job, it will require him to agree that his duties as Chief of Police take precedence over any other conflicting work.
Some of the key stipulations in McCarthy's contract give the township the right to disband the police department at any time “in its sole discretion.” If the department is removed, McCarthy will be paid his regular salary until the date the department is dissolved, plus a termination bonus of two months' salary. If he resigns from his post, he will forfeit any/all post-employment benefits, including salary.
Finally, the township agreed to pay for “reasonable attorney's fees, costs, and necessary disbursements to any other relief to which he [McCarthy] may be entitled.”
Throughout his three-decade career in law enforcement, McCarthy has on occasion been a lightning rod of controversy, and two recent incidents have involved lawsuits, one of which was settled, and a second that is still pending. During the summer of 2007, McCarthy, then Kennett Borough Police Chief, submitted to the Borough his intention to retire, requisite upon five conditions, related to paid compensatory time he felt was owed to him – which totaled $82,000. The Kennett board rejected those proposals and agreed to pay him $16,000. Following the board's response, McCarthy notified the board that he would stay on the force in order to collect the benefits he thought were owed to him.
In response, the Kennett Borough Council suspended McCarthy and, in turn, McCarthy sued both the borough and the council for what he believed was a violation of the Civil Service Act and an interference with his contractual rights. Following the settlement, McCarthy was awarded $150,000 in damages and an additional $200,000 in back pay and pension by the borough.
In 2011, McCarthy was on the front pages again, this time stemming from a head-on collision he had while driving a Kennett Township police vehicle. On Oct. 4, McCarthy rear-ended a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee occupied by Hockessin residents Paula A. Sharpe and George A. Pigford, just south of McFarlan Road. Sharpe and Pigford filed a three-count personal injury lawsuit against Kennett Township and McCarthy, citing negligence and carelessness on the part of McCarthy, that led to Sharpe receiving serious injuries, including acute post-traumatic lumbar sprain.
As a result, McCarthy was temporarily placed on administrative leave from his position, and was confined to desk duties. He later publicly explained the course of his accident, including his admission that he had suffered a brief blackout due to a medical condition, caused by an absence seizure, which is categorized by brief epileptic seizures that occur suddenly and impair consciousness.
The lawsuit stated that it demands a jury trial, and the case is still pending.