Safety and homeland security secretary leaving for Department of Justice

Robert Coupe

DOVER — Department of Safety and Homeland Security Secretary Robert Coupe plans to step down next month to join the Department of Justice, the state announced Friday. He is set to be replaced by the superintendent of Delaware State Police.

Gov. John Carney said Mr. Coupe will soon depart the agency he has led for the past three years. The governor intends to nominate Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr. of the state police as the next secretary.

“There are few people across our state who are more well-respected, and more committed to serving the people of Delaware, than Secretary Coupe,” Gov. Carney said in a statement. “When I was elected Governor in 2016, he was the clear choice to lead the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. He spent almost three decades at the Delaware State Police, rising through the ranks to become Superintendent, and later took on the unique and difficult challenge of leading the Department of Correction.”

McQueen by .
Cpl. Nathaniel McQueen

This will mark the fourth departure by a cabinet secretary under the current governor.

Mr. Coupe spent almost four years leading the Department of Correction under then Gov. Jack Markell after retiring from state police. When Gov. Carney took office, Mr. Coupe stayed in the administration, albeit in a different post.

Col. McQueen was named superintendent in 2012, succeeding Mr. Coupe. A 32-year member of state police, he is the first black Delawarean to lead the law enforcement entity.

“I am truly humbled and honored to be nominated by Governor Carney as the next Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security,” Col. McQueen said in a statement. “I am grateful for his trust and confidence in me to lead and serve as a member of his Cabinet. I thank Secretary Coupe for his leadership and guidance. He has been a true inspiration to us all.”

The Department of Safety and Homeland Security, which employs about 1,200 people, is responsible for the safety and security of all Delawareans. In addition to state police, it contains Delaware Capitol Police, the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, the Office of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner and the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement, among other units.

Col. McQueen’s nomination is expected to be vote on by the Senate in March.

Mr. Coupe will serve as chief of staff for Attorney General Kathy Jennings, following Greg Patterson, who recently joined the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

“I am thrilled that Rob will be joining our team,” Ms. Jennings said in a statement. “His reputation precedes him, not only as a leader in State government, but as a public safety official who for decades has earned the admiration of everyone he has worked with.

“I have worked alongside Rob for years and I’m looking forward to working with him on the issues at the heart of our mission: making Delaware’s justice system more fair and equal for everyone, upholding public safety, and protecting Delawareans’ rights from injustices in our state and nationally.”