Top candidate for Dover police chief emerges

 

DOVER — After months of speculation and vacancy, the search for a city police chief may be nearing an end.

On Monday Mayor Robin R. Christiansen said a top candidate has been identified and the hope is to present him at a special city council meeting on May 4.

First, however, the city must make a job offer to the candidate “to see if the person is interested,” the mayor said. An offer is expected within a week.

A majority vote by the eight-member council is needed to approve the recommended police chief candidate. A 4-4 tally sends the process back to the selection committee to determine a new nominee, according to the mayor.

Earlier this month, the mayor targeted this Thursday as the day a candidate would be introduced to council. Asked about the apparent delay in plans, Mayor Christiansen said, “We’re on target. We’re where we want to be.”

A Police Chief Selection Committee recently thinned a list of 34 applicants to seven that were chosen for interviews scheduled for April 13, 19 and 20 at City Hall and on the phone if needed.

The mayor said committee members took part in vetting the candidates and a top choice was reached. He did not specifically say the group was in unanimous agreement but “I would venture to say members of the committee and their discussions were well represented in the selection of a nominee.”

Deputy Chief Marvin Mailey has led department operations since January when Chief Paul Bernat retired.

Earlier, Mr. Christiansen declined to identify the final list of candidates, or how many jurisdictions they came from. An undisclosed number of current Dover Police officers made the cut, he said.

By city mandate, the mayor has final say on who to present to council after discussion with other committee members — Council President Tim Slavin, Councilman James Hutchison, Human Resources Director Kim Hawkins and Controller/Treasurer Donna Mitchell.

Two original committee members left city government during the search — former Councilman James Hosfelt was elected to Levy Court, and City Manager Scott Koenig retired in March.

Pledging from the outset to conduct a transparent search, the mayor said, “We have continued to follow on the process that was established.”

Earlier, the mayor said the nationwide search attracted candidates from “east, west, north, and south” and “we had across the board of excellent candidates that applied.

“I was impressed that we did attract interest nationwide. We had a good cross-section of people interested.”

The mayor described himself as “relieved” to reach this stage of the search process, since the city still needs to find a permanent planning director and city manager.

“The city government has to move forward at a quick pace to keep up with addressing the daily concerns of our residents,” Mr. Christiansen said.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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