Dover Police Chief Bernat to retire

Chief Paul Bernat

DOVER — Mayor Robin R. Christiansen announced Tuesday the retirement of Dover Police Chief Paul M. Bernat effective Jan. 17, 2017.

Mayor Christiansen will appoint a temporary police chief on Jan. 10, 2017. The City of Dover will be posting an advertisement with the goal that by the end of April, officials said, a new chief will be in place.

“We are going to miss Chief Bernat, and all that he brought to the department and the accomplishments under his leadership and we wish he and his family, nothing but the best,” said Mayor Christiansen in a news release.

Chief Bernat was appointed as the City of Dover’s 13th Police Chief on April 4, 2014. That month, he reinstated the Police Prosecution Project at JP Court 7, allowing officers to remain on the streets instead of the court room.

In September 2014, Chief Bernat was able to add a police officer and created an additional School Resource Officer in the community.

In November 2014 the Dover PD installed a prescription drug drop off box in the lobby of the police department, the box is the responsibility of the DVOC Unit. In two months the DVOC Unit received a total of 104 pounds of miscellaneous prescription drugs which could have fallen into the hands of children or illicit drug offenders.

In the beginning of 2015, Chief Bernat also aggressively pursued funding from the City of Dover to hire more police officers, Mayor Christiansen said. As a result of his efforts and the efforts of his staff, the City of Dover PD gained an authorized strength of 103, which is an increase of an additional 10 police officers.

In May 2015, Chief Bernat re-established the City of Dover PD Cadet program. This program was originally created several years ago, but hadn’t been utilized for numerous years. The cadet program allows 18 year olds and up that are successful in the hiring process, the opportunity to patrol the downtown streets of Dover, the library and other designated areas of the city giving more of a police presence and security to the community. Currently there are nine Cadets that provide security to the businesses on Loockerman Street and the Dover Library.

In January, Chief Bernat secured an unprecedented $580,000 grant from the State of Delaware Joint Finance Committee, officials said. The grant was utilized to put more cameras up in the downtown area of Dover, fund the cadet program until June 30, 2017, create foot patrols in the downtown high crime areas, create and supply the Police Athletic League, create a camera monitoring room in Dover Police dispatch and fund various community outreach programs.

According to Mayor Christiansen, Chief Bernat continuously focused on building bridges with the community. Firmly believing in community security and safety, the mayor said, Chief Bernat focused on crime prevention by increasing the downtown camera system from its original 35 cameras to 108.
This created the necessity for a camera monitoring room, which was quickly added and has become instrumental in solving and preventing crimes within the city, officials said.

In response to an increase in violent crimes, in January 2016, Chief Bernat created the Street Crimes Unit. This seven-officer unit headed by a sergeant, has been instrumental in removing illegal guns from the city of Dover. In 2016 there were over 100 guns taken off of the city streets.

In July 2016, in response to the heroin epidemic, Chief Bernat announced that the Dover PD has partnered with the Police Assisted Addition and Recovery Initiative to establish the department’s addiction recovery program, the ANGEL Program. Dover Police Department is PAARI’s first partner in Delaware.

Said Mayor Christiansen, “Chief Bernat has made an incredible impact on the City of Dover and his service to the city is greatly appreciated.”

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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