YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — Almost a year since being named police commissioner, Michael Muldrow says the most important work of all isn’t done.
“If we could get to a point where we don’t have anybody killing anybody, that would be the goal,” Muldrow said. “That’s what we pray toward. That’s what we work toward.”
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Unlikely, he concedes, “but just to know that we’re driving it down. Just to know that the participation of victims and witnesses are rising up” is evidence, he says, that new techniques are working.
Or are they so new?
“We don’t need to grab another book. We don’t need to bring in another outsider,” Muldrow told abc27 News Monday in a wide-ranging interview. “We just need to look back to the things that had been successful and start doing them again.”
Why would Muldrow know about past successes?
“I’ve been playing around this building since I was four,” he said, standing outside police headquarters. His father retired after a career as a York police officer, and his mother was a secretary for several mayors. Muldrow himself was a city beat cop before becoming chief of police for York city schools.
Muldrow says community complaints against officers are down, and sentiment toward officers is up. He prefers those metrics over other official and unofficial ones he says have sometimes prevailed in police departments.
“I don’t care how many parking tickets you write. I don’t care how many traffic citations you write,” he said “I care about how many guns you get off the street.”
“Every time one of our officers gets a gun off the street, that’s another shooting that’s prevented,” he said. “That’s another potential homicide that’s prevented.”
Asked to assess Muldrow’s tenure so far, Richard Craighead, president of the York NAACP, gave the commissioner good marks.
“It’s a breath of fresh air,” Craighead said. “The fact that he has been implementing programs that directly connect with the community. Allowing himself to be more visible to the community with the community walks — it gets back to that community policing that we talk about.”
Muldrow says department-specific issues combined with national ones, such as the 2020 murder of George Floyd, lead to the low morale he describes when he became the department’s leader.
Muldrow posts nearly daily messages on Facebook, sometimes about encounters he has with residents like a woman he saw crying, stopped to help, and learned she was homeless after a romantic relationship had ended.
“I see a young woman crying, I’m gonna stop,” Muldrow said. “Because it breaks my heart. I have three daughters.”
Should the police commissioner focus on individual issues rather than big-picture ones?
“If you ever feel as though you’re too big, too important, to take the time to connect with somebody, to reach out to somebody — or my God, to stop and help somebody — I think you’re missing the mark,” Muldrow said.