Former Dover Chief Mailey to lead Bureau of Community Corrections

Marvin Mailey, who was Dover’s first African American police chief before he retired in May, was appointed by Commissioner Claire DeMatteis on Thursday to become Chief of the Bureau of Community Corrections. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — Marvin Mailey’s career in law enforcement is one that is already intertwined with history, as he became the city of Dover’s first African American police chief in May 2017, leading a Dover Police Department that was established in 1925.

Now, Mr. Mailey’s career is coming full circle as Claire DeMatteis, the commissioner of the Delaware Department of Correction, announced on Thursday that the former Dover police chief has been appointed as Chief of the Bureau of Community Corrections.

Chief Mailey, who retired as Dover’s police chief in May, began his career in law enforcement in Delaware as a correctional officer in 1989.

“Chief Mailey’s distinguished career reflects a strong commitment to public safety through community engagement and partnership, and he knows the balance between law enforcement and re-entry services needed to lead our Bureau of Community Corrections into the future,” Commissioner DeMatteis said. “As Dover police chief he was recognized for efforts to reduce violent crime by building relationships between law enforcement, residents and community partners. At the DOC he and his team will leverage that same collaborative approach to support successful reentry and reduce our state’s recidivism rate.”

The Bureau of Community Corrections oversees probation and parole, pretrial services, the community work release program, electronic monitoring and other supervision programs for more than 14,000 individuals statewide who are housed in work release and violation of probation facilities or are serving probationary sentences in the community.

Chief Mailey will replace current Bureau of Community Corrections Chief Jim Elder, who will become chief of an expanded Bureau of Healthcare, Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services on Nov. 1.

“I am honored to rejoin the Department of Correction and look forward to leading an exceptional team of probation and parole officers and community corrections professionals who work hard every day to guide justice-involved men and women on their path out of the criminal justice system and into successful, healthy and productive lives in the community,” Chief Mailey said.

It was just six months ago that the former Dover police chief said that he couldn’t wait for retirement. He had the date circled on his calendar for a couple of years.

“I came in knowing what day I would leave. I have a plan,” he said, last February. “I will work somewhere else and it will be a non-law- enforcement position. It’s time for me to return to being a normal person. I just want to be a normal person.”

Chief Mailey, a New York native, said he was looking forward to the day when he could become plain old Mr. Mailey again.

“I go to the gym daily to relieve stress,” he said. “I’m an avid golfer … I’m not very good, but I’m getting there. It’s a work in progress. I’m an outdoorsman, I like to fish. I don’t hunt, but I do fish. Golfing has kind of supplanted fishing in my life. Golfing’s all-consuming now and if you’ve never played golf, don’t start. It’s bad. It’s worse than heroin (with a laugh).”

Putting lessons
learned to use

Now, half a year later, it’s back for work for the chief — just with a different kind of job.

Chief Mailey returns to the Department of Correction with more than 30 years of community-focused law enforcement experience.

After serving for four years as a Law Enforcement Specialist in the United States Air Force, he served from 1989 to 1993 as a correctional officer with the Delaware Department of Correction.

He joined the Dover Police Department in 1993, with assignments in the Patrol Unit, Drugs, Vice and Organized Crime Unit and Community Policing program. He served in leadership positions as a supervisor of the Special Operations Response Team, Patrol Platoon, the Special Enforcement Unit and Unit Commander of the Internal Affairs Unit.

Mr. Mailey was appointed deputy chief in 2014 and in May 2017 was appointed chief of police in a unanimous vote of Dover City Council.

Most recently, Chief Mailey had served as Public Safety Manager for Bayhealth.

He said the things he learned while serving as Dover’s police chief will help him in his future endeavors.

“I’ve learned so much over the past couple of years — personnel management is one of the big things in my job, (dealing with) a lot of different personalities inside the agency and outside the agency, connecting with community, working with them is vitally important,” Chief Mailey said, of his time with the Dover Police Department. “The business side of running the police department is something that I had some insight into because I was deputy chief for four years under Chief (Paul) Bernat, but just really running the operation with the assistance of my staff in making the final decision on things — that’s very different.

“When you’re weighing in and giving your opinion that’s different than saying, ‘OK, this is the direction that we’re going to go and this is why we’re going to go in this direction,’ because I am responsible for everything. I’m responsible for every good thing that happens and every bad thing that happens, and that’s a heavy cross to bear.”

Chief Mailey credited the guidance and advice that many people have given him, including Delaware State Police Superintendent Robert Coupe and Col. Nathaniel McQueen, also of the state police.

Preparing for new challenges

Now he is preparing himself for a new challenge. It turns out that retirement was fleeting.

He will lead a Bureau of Community Corrections Department that works to reduce crime and support public safety by assessing offender risks and needs and providing responsive supervision through comprehensive evidence-based reentry-focused programs that feature substance abuse treatment, mental health services, career counseling, education and training.

His staff will collaborate every day with medical and behavioral healthcare professionals, community organizations, service providers, state agencies, employers and the Judiciary to connect men and women under their supervision to systems of support that improve their chances of leading productive lives in our communities.

They also play an active role in collaborative crime reduction initiatives, including the Group Violence Intervention project in Wilmington.

And while Chief Mailey is headed back to corrections — the place where it all began for him in Delaware some three decades ago — he will never forget the historical legacy he left as Dover’s first African American police chief.

“I think it’s more significant for young people to know that they have an opportunity to aspire to become what they want to become, and I don’t take that lightly,” Chief Mailey said in February. “I know I have big shoes to fill and that’s why I work so hard to try and honor the position.

“It’s very important to me and my family. It is an honor being the Dover police chief. I have a great agency. I know that I have a high standard to keep up and to follow all the previous chiefs.”

Now, it’s on to new challenges, which are things that he has always met with headfirst throughout his distinguished career.

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

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