Dover Police Chief Search to Go Beyond Department Ranks - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dover Police Chief Search to Go Beyond Department Ranks

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FOP Lodge #15 President David Gist. (Tom Lehman/WBOC) FOP Lodge #15 President David Gist. (Tom Lehman/WBOC)

The search for Dover's next police chief will go beyond the department's ranks due to changes made in the hiring process, though a union official said he hopes a candidate from within the department will get the nod.

Chief Paul Bernat announced this month that he would retire in January, opening the door for the city to select a new chief. An interim chief will be chosen to head the department until that decision is made.

Mayor Robin Christiansen will nominate a chief for approval by city council. He will be part of a committee that includes the city council president and city manager who are reviewing candidates for the job.

However, Dave Gist, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #15 said he believes someone from within the department should be chosen as chief, saying that qualified officers in Dover have been working toward that goal. 

"It would take the wind out of a lot of people's sails if they knew they worked so hard for that position and it could be outsourced to someone who can come along from anywhere," he said.

Allowing the search to extend beyond the department was one of the changes made by the city government following controversy that followed Bernat's promotion.

After his promotion, there were allegations of meddling by a former mayor in the selection of a deputy chief and the city later paid $300,000 to five officers to settle grievances claiming they were passed over for the promotion.

Christiansen said the selection process will be transparent and result in a chief who can address the city's needs. He hopes the search and selection process will be done by the end of April.

"I would hope that the taxpayers have the confidence in me, understanding that what transpired in the past is not going to happen again," he said.

But Gist said bringing an outsider on board as chief could cause some slowing of the department's operations as that person tries to mesh their vision with the department's procedures and personnel.

"It's going to be a period where they need to catch up," he said. "You can't come from another area and know Dover like the officers who are working here know Dover."

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