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Ousted Yeadon Chief Eyes Injunction to Keep Job Open

Anthony “Chachi” Paparo, who was ousted by Yeadon council Thursday evening from his job as the borough police chief, told the Delaware Valley Journal podcast Friday he may file for an injunction against the township to prevent the borough from hiring a permanent replacement for his former job, until after litigation is completed.

“The reason I was being terminated, the reason that I was going to be let go is because they wanted a Black chief, this new council wanted a Black chief for the Black town,” he said.

Paparo contends the council violated his civil rights and due process rights, but he wants his job back and does not want to “harm the residents of Yeadon.” Yeadon solicitor Mark Much did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

“I want to come back to…continue to carry out what we were doing,” he said. Paparo was part of the Love is the Answer movement, which seeks to build better relationships between the police and communities of color. Paparo told the DVJounal that he worked hard to help the community, for example, providing animal control services with his own traps and putting up deer fences for elderly residents himself.

“It’s another way to meet people other than just through a 911 call for an emergency or an accident, or you’re a crime victim or you’re having a problem with your neighbor,” he said. “I’m coming there. We’re just talking, one on one human to  human and then interacting.”

“And, when I tell you that the, uh, the narrative of the strains between police and communities of color is not what’s going on in Yeadon,” he said. “We, we are there sign of hope for in the world that that’s how much positive stuff.”

“I don’t do anything based on the color of someone’s skin,” he said. “And I don’t think that because it’s a majority Black town that that needs to be a requirement or even something to look at. I mean, if, if, if I wasn’t doing the job, if I wasn’t uniting the community…”

Paparo contends that when a new group of borough council members were elected, they decided to fire him and hire a Black chief to replace him. Yeadon is a majority Black community.

However, more than a 1,000 residents returned his love, signing a petition and coming to council meetings to tell the council members to keep Paparo as chief. People in the community were “coming out and droves” (to support him), he said.

Instead, the council used a financial premise regarding police overtime as reason to fire him. Council President Sharon Council-Harris cited a $387,000 fine that arose out of an overtime-related grievance with the Fraternal Order of Police as the reason for the chief’s dismissal.

Hpwever. lawyer Harold Goodman said the consent order the borough entered into over the fine had a no-fault clause and it was unfair to saddle Paparo with blame. He called the fine a “pretext” and a “coverup” for the council’s real motivation to get rid of Paparo.

In the podcast Friday with the Delaware Valley Journal, Paparo said that he learned the new council members were talking about replacing him with a Black chief of police last year but did not take it seriously.

His reaction to what happened?

“I’ll be honest with you. It destroyed me,” said Paparo.

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Sharon Hill Council Fires Three Officers Indicted in Girl’s Death

Two days after a Delaware County grand jury indicted three Sharon Hill police officers on manslaughter and other charges in the shooting death of 8-year-old Fanta Bility, Sharon Hill Borough Council voted 6-1 to fire them.

Fanta was among four people injured when the officers began firing toward a car that came around the corner after a group of young men began shooting at each other in the 900 block of Coates Street.  However, at the same time spectators from an Academy Park High School football game, including Fanta, were leaving the stadium and were caught in a hail of bullets. A fifth victim was struck by a bullet fired by one of the young men, the grand jury report said.

Officers Devon Smith, 33, Sean Dolan, 25, and Brian Devaney, 41, are free on $500,000 unsecured bail.

“This is a sad day for our officers who face criminal charges for trying to do their jobs and keeping the community safe,” Joseph Fitzgerald, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 27 said in a statement. “The FOP continues to support those fine officers and will provide a vigorous defense against these allegations. Our members have served the Sharon Hill community with respect and integrity and we ask the public for continued patience as this case moves through the criminal justice system.”

Some Delaware Valley residents have also raised questions about how the officers are being treated.

“It’s a shame these fine officers are being used as scapegoats,” Haverford resident Richard Gallo said on Facebook. “Would never have happened if it was a Republican county and DA”—a jab at Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, a Democrat.

Soon after the incident, various groups, including Black Lives Matter and the NAACP, began demanding charges be filed against the three officers.

But retired Upper Darby Police Chief Mike Chitwood says he believes they were not treated fairly. He blames Stollsteimer.

“When I saw the DA, who I respect, when I saw he punted the case to the grand jury, I said, ‘These guys are going to be indicted.’ Because a grand jury can indict a hamburger.”

“I always said, ‘Taking a case before a grand jury takes the heat off you.’ So don’t have to make a decision and the police don’t get mad at you if you take a case before a grand jury.”

“The incident itself was a tragedy,” Chitwood added. “I accept that. It was a total out-and-out tragedy…In my opinion, the police, as tragic as it was, never went into work and said, ‘I think I’ll kill an 8-year-old girl.’ It never happened. But the way they’re being treated, with the indictment, the grand jury, now they’re being fired. Where’s the presumption of innocence? There is none. And that’s unfair. You wonder why police in America today don’t do anything? Because they don’t get the backing.”

Borough Council should have waited to act until after the trial, he said. Council President Tanya Allen did not respond to a request for comment.

“They didn’t give them that opportunity,” said Chitwood. “And, it’s all about what’s politically right. It doesn’t take away from the tragedy. It was a tragic event that happened because of a lot of different variables that played themselves out.”

“This is the society we live in today,” Chitwood. “The homicide rates are going sky high. The solvability rates are going sky low. That’s the reason why. You’re not going to do anything if you get no support. These officers, right, wrong, indifferent got no support.”


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