DOVER — Mayor Robin Christiansen is expected to name an interim chief for the Dover Police Department this morning.
There are many — including State Rep. Sean Lynn, City Councilman Roy Sudler Jr. and the Rev. Rita Mishoe Paige — who insist that not only is current DPD Deputy Chief Maj. Marvin Mailey the man for the interim job, he is also the obvious candidate to be named chief of police.
Mayor Christiansen will make the announcement at his office at City Hall at 10 this morning.
Police Chief Paul Bernat’s last day is scheduled for Jan. 17. He is leaving his post to take a job as a law enforcement liaison with the Delaware Office of Highway Safety.
When announcing Chief Bernat’s departure in December, Mayor Christiansen put his focus on finding a permanent replacement by the end of April.
Rev. Paige said now is the time to promote Maj. Mailey, second-in-charge on the Dover police force, from within.
“We want to see Marvin Mailey as the first African-American police chief for the city of Dover,” she said. “It’s well overdue. I can’t believe for as long as the city of Dover police have been in existence that there has never been an African-American police chief.
“It’s especially (important) with the racial tone all across the country … this mayor has a great opportunity to do a great thing and there seems to be an issue over something that really shouldn’t have to be an issue.”
Change of command
That issue came about the last time the Dover police had a change of command.
Then-Lt. Mailey’s promotion to deputy chief over five senior officers during the transition from Chief James Hosfelt Jr. to Chief Bernat in April 2014 cost the city $300,000 due to the grievances that followed.
While Chief Bernat was responsible for selecting a deputy chief, city council feared at the time that then-Mayor Carleton E. Carey had unduly influenced the choice and opened up opportunity for costly civil liability. Mr. Carey, who denied the accusation, resigned as mayor shortly afterward.
City council then voted to put procedures into place to try to ensure fairness and transparency when it came to promotions within the department.
In the past, the city’s mayor had the sole responsibility in choosing a new police chief. Mayor Christiansen told the Delaware State News that he will ultimately decide the candidate presented to city council for a vote of approval.
This time around, however, the mayor will have to collaborate with a committee including Safety Advisory and Transportation Committee Chairman Mr. Hosfelt, City Council President Tim Slavin, City Manager Scott Koenig and Human Resources Director Kimberly Hawkins in order to find the best candidates – which can come from either inside or outside the agency.
New city codes
Councilman Sudler said he understands there are new city codes that have been put into place by council, but that he has concerns about them.
“I’m more or less worried about the true intent of the search,” he said. “What is the true intent? Is it true intent to bypass previous policies and procedures in promoting someone to a higher rank?
“It gives a flavor that there’s something more going on. I’m not saying it is, but I don’t like it.”
The issue has also struck a nerve with Rep. Lynn.
“I am deeply concerned about any hesitation in appointing Deputy Chief Mailey as our next Chief, and condemn any efforts at gamesmanship or politics that would preclude the appointment of Dover’s first African-American Chief of Police,” Rep. Lynn, a Democrat, wrote as part of a letter supporting Mr. Mailey on his Facebook page on Thursday.
In an interview with the State News last week, Mayor Christiansen said he is simply following the updated city regulations when it comes to the appointment of a police chief.
“My concern continues to be that the process will be pristine and transparent, and that no backdoor deals will be arranged,” he said. “We want to show the residents who have entrusted us with this responsibility that ordinances and code will be followed to the letter.
“This process is not going to include any external lobbying to influence preference for any particular person or demographic.”
An obvious candidate
Councilman Sudler and Rev. Paige, who spoke on Monday before knowing that Mayor Christiansen had scheduled a press conference for this morning regarding the police chief’s position, said they know there are rules in place, but insisted there is an obvious candidate for the job in Deputy Chief Maj. Mailey.
“I’m not saying let’s ignore the rules, I’m saying let’s promote within,” Mr. Sudler said. “I think it’s a smack in the face that you have hard-working police officers who have started from ground zero hoping to be at the top that will be bypassed or not promoted to a higher rank.
“I do not condone superseding the rules and regulations or policies set within, but I do think that we have a capable chief deputy who can fulfill the job without doing any search.”
Dover’s next chief of police will oversee an authorized officer-strength of 103 which polices a city of around 38,000 residents.
Rev. Paige said there is no doubt that the next police chief should be Maj. Mailey.
“I believe this is the opportune time to select the first African-American police chief being that we have been working on building racial relationships, building stronger relationships between the police and the community, especially within the minority community,” Rev. Paige said. “This is the right time to do the right thing.
“Although the (city) rule now is that you can do a national search, I also know that it’s part of the rule to where you can promote from within. So if there’s someone to promote from within, let it be Deputy Chief Marvin Mailey.”
Mayor Christiansen told the State News last week that he is prepared for the community to hold he and the police chief search committee responsible for their decision.
“I would hope and expect that the committee will come to a consensus,” he said. “At the end of the day I think we will all have the same person in mind.”
Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at email@example.com.