Clayton Police chief suspended with pay

Brian C. Hill

CLAYTON — Police Chief Brian C. Hill was suspended with pay Tuesday following a misdemeanor DUI of alcohol charge earlier this month.

Clayton Town Council emerged from a 45-minute closed executive session to announce the administrative leave related to an Aug. 12 traffic stop.

Chief Hill was also charged with failure to maintain a single lane on Sunnyside Road just after the 10 p.m. stop.

Lt. Carl Hudson will lead the police department until further notice.

Mayor Dave Letterman was joined in unanimous fashion by council members Nick Smith, Mary Ellen DeBenedictis, William R. Carrow and Alex Dias after meeting with town attorney Scott Chambers behind closed doors.

The chief’s employment status will be evaluated following resolution of the court case, according to the mayor.

An initial appearance is scheduled for Friday morning in the Kent County Court of Common Pleas in Dover.

Chief Hill is a 47-year-old Dover resident. His annual salary was not immediately available. Mayor Letterman said the town office could provide it when the office reopened today.

“It’s public information, I’m sure (the office) will have it,” he said.

Six residents and two media members gathered outside as the executive session was ongoing at town hall on Main Street.

Following the announcement, Mayor Letterman described the decision as “a balancing act” for the town to “look out for its citizens” and also the chief’s “right to due process.”

The chief’s job performance — spanning approximately 10 years — drew sterling reviews from the mayor and residents who went to the meeting that began at 4 p.m.
“In the years he’s been here he’s done an exemplary job,” Mayor Letterman said.

“… He has done a great job up to this point. Everyone makes mistakes.”

Virillio Hill attended with three fellow residents who said they wanted to show support for the chief. Noting his background as a retired law enforcement officer, Mr. Hill said he needed to learn more about the traffic stop before making a judgment on any possible consequences.

“There’s a lot I still don’t know,” he said.

Bernard Davenport said he’d heard “two different sides” of the story and acknowledged not knowing the circumstances involved.

“I think the chief is a great guy,” Mr. Davenport said. “He’s a people’s person whose always had time to talk any time I’ve come into contact with him.”

Chief Hill is a Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council trustee and was named Smyrna Police Department Officer of the Year in 1999.

According to investigating Delaware State Police in an arrest affidavit, a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 percent was allegedly detected on an intoxilyzer.

The minimum threshold for a DUI charge in Delaware is 0.08 percent.

Mayor Letterman did not learn of the alleged incident until four days after the stop and declined comment on the delay Tuesday.

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