Pennsylvania police captain chosen as new Dover chief

DOVER — Late Monday night, Dover city officials finalized the selection of Upper Darby (Pa.) Police Department Capt. Thomas A. Johnson Jr. as its next police chief.

After discussing the city’s comprehensive plan and other matters for just over an hour, mayor and council went into closed door executive session at 8:36 p.m. Members began to re-enter the chamber at 9:28 p.m. and the public meeting resumed at 9:31 p.m.

Mayor Robin R. Christiansen provided a presentation of officer Johnson’s candidacy; he’s currently captain of the department’s training and professional standards unit with 14 years of leadership experience. Councilmen/selection committee members Ralph Taylor Jr. and William F. Hare followed with their positive reviews of the nominee.

Consenting to the mayor and selection committee’s recommendation were councilmen Hare and Taylor, along with Timothy A. Slavin, Matthew J. Lindell, Tanner Wm. Polce, Scott W. Cole, Fred A. Neil, David L. Anderson and Roy Sudler Jr.

The matter was affirmed unanimously at 9:46 p.m.

Mayor Christiansen thanked the town solicitor for his part in the process as well.

The original plan had been to introduce a candidate in December, the mayor said.

A press conference to introduce the new chief was scheduled to be held at 4:30 p.m. today at the mayor’s office in City Hall. It was to be a media only event due to limited space, the city said.

Dover Police has an authorized strength of 101 uniformed officers; the department currently has 95 active and five in the police academy and scheduled to graduate in February. There are also 36 civilian members of the department.

Local enforcement has been challenged by a surge of recent shootings (leaving one fatal victim and nine other persons injured) in the city – 13 since Dec. 23. Ten occurred within Dover city limits, three in Delaware State Police jurisdiction.

On Jan. 7, a candidate was offered the chief’s position and accepted. An original pool of 22 candidates had been whittled to six – five men and a woman, Mayor Christiansen said.

The finalists were described as “some local, some not local.” On Monday, Mayor Christiansen said they were “very diverse and from across the country.”

Capt. Tim Stump had served as acting chief since May 17, 2019 after Marvin Mailey retired.

Other selection committee members include City Manager Donna S. Mitchell, Human Resources Director Kim Hawkins, Council President Mr. Hare and Safety Advisory and Transportation Committee chairman Mr. Taylor Jr. City Clerk Traci McDowell has been involved in the process as well.