Dover begins process of finding next police chief

DOVER — The City of Dover took the first small steps to hiring a new police chief Wednesday evening.

The Police Chief Selection Committee met in the City Hall Caucus Room for the first time and went over the fine details such as a review of the job description, a selection of where they should advertise the position and a suggested recruitment timetable.

Mayor Robin Christiansen said he hopes the committee members will be able to interview candidates in November and have a candidate ready to present for city council approval at its Dec. 9 meeting.

The mayor said it will be a difficult position to fill considering the exemplary job that former Police Chief Marvin Mailey had accomplished in his two years as head of the Dover Police Department as well as Deputy Chief Tim Stump, who has served as interim police chief since Mr. Mailey’s retirement this spring.

Deputy Chief Stump is nearing mandatory retirement and has no plans to seek to become Dover’s permanent police chief.
“We are looking for someone who is going to have to be the gold standard because I had a chief who was an outstanding chief and had those qualities as well as a deputy chief who had those qualities,” Mayor Christiansen said.

“I don’t want to scare anybody off, but this is going to be a tough act to follow.”

The search committee is comprised of Mayor Christiansen, City Manager Donna Mitchell, Human Resources Director Kim Hawkins, Council President Bill Hare and Safety Advisory and Transportation Committee Chairman Ralph Taylor Jr.

Ralph Taylor Jr.

The mayor is not anticipating any of the lawsuits, payouts and other issues that have come along with the city’s hiring process of the last three police chiefs.

“We’re going to get through this process with due diligence, the same due diligence we’ve exercised in the past with honesty and integrity,” Mayor Christiansen said. “That’s why this selection process was put in place, to eliminate horse trading, favoritism and all the other things that people would be suspect to.

“I want (the public) to know that as long as I am chairman of this committee and mayor of this city this process and the hiring of our other senior officials will be done in a pristine manner.”
Councilman Taylor was a former officer for the Dover Police Department. He could hardly contain the excitement he feels in getting the chance to help find the next leader of Dover’s police force.

“I had the opportunity to be a part of this subcommittee and I quickly jumped at the opportunity,” Councilman Taylor said. “I was excited to be a part of this selection committee. For a former police officer this is like a dream come true. You get a chance to pick the next top cop and I’m excited.

“I think my diversity of thought and my refusal to make visceral decisions based on finances, based on this person who is applying for the police chief. I don’t see them as just a man or just a woman, I don’t see them as just black or just white, I don’t see them as Hispanic or LGBTQ, I’m looking out truly for the best interest of the city.”
Mayor Christiansen called the police chief “the most important person in the city.”

He said that Deputy Chief Stump would have been the logical person to fill that role moving forward.
“He is a dedicated public servant,” the mayor said, of Mr. Stump. “He and his wife have life plans and becoming the chief of police for the city of Dover were not included in those. He has graciously offered to stay on board through the hiring of the new chief and for the first few months that the new chief is on board.”

Mayor Christiansen added that there were several qualities that are important in a successful police chief – but leadership is always the most important one.

“Leadership, team building, building confidence with the police department as a leader and building confidence as a leader in the community,” he said. “I think it’s important that you have those qualities because the public has to have confidence in you as a leader as well as the men and women of the Dover Police Department.

“Our goal is to seek the best chief for the city of Dover Police Department and someone who is going to serve our community.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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