Mailey makes history as Dover’s first African-American 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 — Deputy Chief Maj. Marvin Mailey entered quietly through the door and stepped into the city council chambers at Dover’s City Hall just moments after the eight-member council unanimously voted for him to be police chief for the city of Dover.

Chief Mailey, who had previously served as deputy chief and interim police chief, could not contain a big smile as he was immediately surrounded and hugged by supporters and friends from the community.

This, said Rita Mishoe Paige, was a historic moment for Dover.

Chief Mailey, who has been with the Dover Police Department for almost 24 years, became the city’s first African-American police chief since the department was established in 1925.

“This is a historic moment for the city of Dover,” Ms. Paige said. “This is just what we needed at the right time. I’ve gotten to know (Chief Mailey) pretty well.

“I’ve sat right beside him on a couple of cases and I’ve been meeting with him every month, so I know he’s a man of integrity, a man of his word, and he’s going to be fair and just.”

La Mar Gunn, a Dover businessman and community activist, knew the competition was going to be fierce among the seven finalists for the police chief job, but was pleased that Chief Mailey managed to stand out.

“It wasn’t in my hands, but I’m glad it’s finally over,” Mr. Gunn said. “It is (historic) and I just hope that we continue to grow together as one family. I think we have some decent momentum in that direction and I just pray that Marvin can move it forward.

“I knew there were some other good and great candidates, some are my friends, and the city made a decision and I just hope that he can heal some of those wounds within the police department and the community,” Mr. Gunn said.

Master Cpl. David Gist, Dover Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 15 president, said the FOP supported the selection of Deputy Chief Mailey. He said an internal promotion always helps with the overall moral of the department.

“We’re happy,” Mr. Gist said. “We’re happy that it’s an internal pick and we couldn’t ask for a better leader. Marvin Mailey’s respected and he’s a true leader. That’s what we needed — someone from inside.

“We’re not a big agency, so our ranks are stagnant to begin with. If you had brought an outside person in then it would have been more stagnant, so this actually moves more people.”

Chief Mailey had served as deputy chief of the department since April 2014. He was named interim police chief for the retiring former Chief Paul M. Bernat on Jan. 9.

Chief Mailey is a New York native and came to Delaware in 1989 where he began working as a correctional officer.

He said he is ready to take on his new challenge at the head of the Dover Police Department and is eager to continue trying to decrease crime in the capital city.

“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.”

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