Marvin Mailey named City of Dover police chief

Deputy Chief Marvin Mailey is congratulated after he was selected as Dover’s new police chief at City Hall on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — In a historic hiring, Deputy Chief Maj. Marvin Mailey was selected as the city’s first African-American police chief by unanimous vote on Thursday.

All eight city council members approved of Mayor Robin R. Christiansen’s recommendation to become Dover’s 14th police chief.

Chief Mailey, 50, topped a list of 34 candidates who applied for the vacancy left when Paul Bernat retired in January. He said he wanted to be chosen because of his qualifications as a police officer and nothing else.

“Throughout the whole process I wanted to participate in the challenge of becoming police chief,” Chief Mailey said. “I wanted to compete for it and not be handed anything. I’m a competitor and I enjoy that and I wanted to earn the job that way.”

A nearly 24-year member of the Dover Police Department, Chief Mailey said he plans to connect with the community through outreach and education, along with enforcement of the law to bring down the crime rate.

“I am honored that Mayor Robin R. Christiansen, the Dover city council and the hiring committee have faith in me,” Chief Mailey said.

“I know we have a lot of work to do, but I am ready to take on this challenge.

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen addresses the city council telling them that Marvin Mailey was the top candidate for Dover’s new police chief at City Hall on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Also, Chief Mailey said, “I want to solidify the staff and promote some people.”

The new chief will appoint a second-in-charge deputy chief at a time to be announced. He said Mr. Bernat left the department in good working order when taking the interim role that became permanent on Thursday.

Search committee members Councilmen James Hutchison and President Tim Slavin approved the nomination, along with acting city manager Donna Mitchell. Human Resources Director Kim Hawkins voted no.

Mr. Christiansen opted not to vote for a candidate to present before the city council meeting.

“I just felt it was important to recuse myself and let the rest of the committee make the final decision … I did have my say.”

The selection received positive reviews from Dover Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 15 spokesman Master Cpl. David Gist.

“He is definitely the right man for the job,” he said. “Maj. Mailey is a truly respected leader throughout the department. The troops will be happy.”

Councilman David Anderson was enthusiastic, pointing to Chief Mailey rising through the ranks, serving in every section in the department, especially the drug unit.

“I feel there is no one more qualified to address the issues in our community,” he said.

Councilman Brian Lewis thanked the search committee for doing its “due diligence” in selecting Chief Mailey from a field of qualified candidates, and noted the groundbreaking value of choosing an African-American for police chief.

Selection committee member Mr. Hutchison, a long-time Dover PD officer and former chief, said, “There is no question in my mind that Marvin Mailey is the right man at the right time to be (Dover police chief.

“We’ve watched him (work) for the last 20 years, so we know him and he knows us … and he also knows his community.”

Touting the choice, Councilman Roy Sudler said, “Tonight, city council along with the mayor of Dover made a decision that will not only help navigate our great City of Dover to a higher quality of living, but has set a new historical paradigm that exemplifies the ideology that hard work, respect and dedication to the City of Dover literally pays off despite your unique physical appearance or background.

“Dover is on the move people and now is the time to put aside whatever differences we may have had with each other during this process and continue to work together for the best interest of this great city.”

The new police chief, who is married and has three adult children, will be paid $118,352 annually.

A news conference introducing Chief Mailey as new chief is scheduled for next Tuesday.

In the interim

On Jan. 10, Mr. Christiansen appointed Deputy Chief Maj. Mailey to lead the department in the absence of a permanent police chief.

According to the mayor, the city received 34 applications from qualified applicants and seven were offered opportunity for interviews with the committee. The search went nationwide, and in-house and outside candidates emerged from “east, west, north and south,” according to Mr. Christiansen.

The process was contentious at times, often involving Mr. Christiansen and Mr. Sudler trading barbs about the process almost immediately after the position opened.

The mayor believed over-aggressive lobbying for Maj. Mailey reached an intolerable crescendo, while Mr. Sudler questioned the transparency of the selection process and whether Mr. Christiansen was biased against one candidate and should recuse himself from making the selection.

Also, Mr. Sudler groused about the selection process and said it should go under review upon the hiring. Mr. Christiansen pointed to the format being unanimously voted in by city council and pledged a fair search with input from all committee members considered.

An erroneously published job description draft on Jan. 11 sparked more conflict regarding potential new qualifications for the job, and the committee ultimately decided to not change them.

The original selection committee lost former Councilman James Hosfelt after his election to Levy Court, and City Manager Scott Koenig departed when retiring in March. Ms. Mitchell and Mr. Hutchison replaced them.

On Jan. 4, the city reported that the current police chief’s salary was $2,438.40 weekly ($126,796.8 annually) and the deputy chief made $2,167.60 ($112,715.20 annually).

Looking back

In 2014, Mailey’s promotion to deputy chief prompted the city to pay five high-ranking officers $300,000 due to racial discrimination claims. While Mr. Bernat made the selection, Mayor Carleton Carey, who denied any undue influence in the pick, resigned soon afterward under pressure from city council.

In naming Maj. Mailey as second in command three years ago, Mr. Bernat cited his over two decades with city police, “serving in a multitude of capacities during that time.

“Mailey has also been considered a natural leader throughout his career, demonstrating the ability to support, motivate, and inspire several generations of Dover police officers to serve their city with pride and a strong work ethic.”

Also detailed were Maj. Mailey’s service in the U.S. Air Force as a law enforcement specialist and time with Delaware Department of Correction as officer before coming to Dover.

Numerous Dover PD positions Maj. Mailey held, among others, were DEA Task Force, Patrol Platoon Supervisor, and Special Operations Response Team leader and commander, and at least 14 departmental awards were earned.

Maj. Mailey trained in the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association Supervisor Leadership Course in January 2014.

Dover is still without a permanent city manager and planner with the vacancies left by Mr. Koenig, and Anne Marie Townshend, who accept a position with the Town of Lewes.

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