Hutchison joins search for new Dover police chief

DOVER — A new-look committee will privately review applications to fill the city’s police chief vacancy this afternoon.

Councilman James Hutchison has joined the group of five city officials tasked with overseeing the search process after former Councilman Jim Hosfelt was elected to Levy Court last week.

Mr. Hutchison filled the search committee position through city charter mandate when chosen as the city’s safety and transportation commission chairman to replace Mr. Hosfelt.

The executive session will begin today at 4 p.m. at City Hall and is closed to the public due to Delaware law when personnel matters are involved.

With his background as city mayor for 10 years and police chief for five, Mr. Hutchison said Wednesday he is a good fit to help identify a candidate. He previously served as Dover’s safety and transportation advisory committee chairman as well, and was replaced by Mr. Hosfelt.

“The foundation has been laid to where the committee is going to get into reviewing applications and the process is definitely on solid ground,” he said.

Mayor Robin R. Christiansen, who ultimately will determine a candidate to present before council after input from the other committee members, initially targeted the end of April for having a permanent police chief in place.

James L. Hutchison

Mr. Hutchison seemed to say the same, believing “[t]his process will be over very soon and we can continue moving forward in working to best serve the needs of the city.”

On Monday, Councilman Brian Lewis was the lone “no” vote to appointing Mr. Hutchison as the safety and transportation committee chairman, noting the committee member will leave office in May after choosing not to run for re-election.

Mr. Lewis does not believe the process will be completed by the time Mr. Hutchison departs and that “is unfair to the applicants, selection committee and the City.”

The current leadership at Dover PD “continues to move forward” and the “department is on solid ground,” according to Mr. Hutchison.

Add a member?

Earlier this month, Mr. Lewis said he received an e-mail from African Methodist Episcopal Church pastor Rev. Rita Mishoe Paige suggesting consideration of adding a member of the public to the search committee. The councilman said he forwarded the correspondence to Council President Timothy Slavin — a committee member — for direction.

Responding to Pastor Mishoe Paige on March 20, Mr. Lewis said, “I think your suggestion is a good idea. I am surprised no one suggested adding someone from the public back when this newly mandated Police Chief Selection Committee was formed.

“I don’t know if it is too late to implement a change to the process by adding an additional committee member from the community, Dover Human Relations Commission or a local college student.

“I will forward your suggestion to the City Council President Councilman Slavin for direction.”

In her message, also sent to Councilman Roy E. Sudler, Pastor Paige said she “realized that the selection committee only consisting of the mayor, city manager, human resources director, city council president and council chairman of the safety advisory and transportation committee leaves no room for a minority or one community member.

“What is the possibility of a policy change? My recommendation would be to include the city’s Human Relations Chair. and maybe a (Delaware State University, Delaware Tech, Wilmington University or Wesley College student). What do you think?”

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