Proposal to alter Dover police chief selection moves ahead

DOVER — City Council approved the first reading of a proposed ordinance regarding how the police chief is selected and expanding the police cadet program during Tuesday night’s meeting.

The next scheduled reading will be on June 8.

One of the proposed changes would have the police chief choose and appoint the deputy police chief.

Council also amended to remove the requirement that the police chief be selected from within the police department and to assign a police chief selection committee.

It’s a change that Mayor Robin Christiansen wants implemented.

“I think it will beneficial to everyone,” Mayor Christiansen said. It guarantees everyone has a fair chance during the process.”

A police chief selection committee comprised of the mayor, council president, chair of the safety advisory and transportation committee, city manager, and human resources director will advise the mayor on the nomination of the police chief.

Currently under the city’s charter, the mayor is responsible for selecting a new chief of police when the position becomes vacant.

The mayor will nominate a duly qualified chief of police, whose appointment shall be effective upon confirmation by the city council.

The chief of police will be subject to removal at any time by the mayor, with the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members elected to the city council.

Police Chief Paul Bernat also requested to codify the Dover Police Department’s cadet program, which will expand the cadets to the city and not just the downtown area.

“It will enable us to go out to the neighborhoods and ride bikes and be seen,” Chief Bernat said. “I think it’s important for different neighborhoods to see our presence as well. I didn’t want to just be tied down to the downtown area.”

The cadet program was approved by city council’s Legislative, Finance and Administration Committee last December after being recommended by Chief Bernat.

The cadets, age 18 and up will carry standard police equipment, including pepper spray, handcuffs and stun guns. T

They will not carry handguns, but they will be authorized to make arrests and issue criminal summonses.

The program was started in the wake of three shootings in November and two homicides in August.

Councilman Roy Sudler Jr. praised Chief Bernat’s recommendation.

“I just wanted to say thank you,” Mr. Sudler said. “I’m in agreement with it and I’m appreciative of it. I’m pretty sure our constituents do too. It’s a great call.”

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