The Wyoming Town Council knew it had the right man for the job already under its employment when it came to naming its new police chief. Police Chief Martin Willey has been with the Wyoming Police Department for more than six years, rising from the rank of corporal to lieutenant/officer in charge.
The Wyoming Town Council knew it had the right man for the job already under its employment when it came to naming its new police chief.
Police Chief Martin Willey has been with the Wyoming Police Department for more than six years, rising from the rank of corporal to lieutenant/officer in charge.
The Wyoming Town Council named him chief in November, and he was sworn in on Dec. 5.
While he is a young police chief at 47, Willey has a lot of support from local police chiefs and the Delaware Police Chiefs Council, Wyoming Mayor Frankie Dale Rife said.
“As much as possible, we really try to promote from within,” she said. “With his experience, he knows the town very well and he knows the residents of our town. So, let’s try to take care of our own.”
As Willey puts it, the other police chiefs he knows have a combined 200 years of experience and a wealth of knowledge that he can call upon.
“I will not hesitate to go and ask somebody for advice,” he said. “If the people are out there and they have the experience and knowledge, why not use it?”
Plus, he has a lot of support from the residents of Wyoming, Willey said.
“They wanted to see me get the position,” he said. “They want to try to reward people for doing a good job.”
In all, Willey has nearly 13 years experience in small town police departments, including six years with Greenwood and one year with Cheswold. He also worked as an investigator for child support for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services for more than six years.
Willey oversees a department of three, including himself. He is trying to restore the fourth position left open by the departure of former Chief of Police Charles Manuszak. The Wyoming Town Council suspended Manuszak in September 2010 following accusations he improperly accessed the database known as the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System. He ended up resigning.
Willey said that was between the town and the former chief. Now, he just wants to replace that open position through a competitive, federal COPS grant. If that does not pan out, he is hopeful that town council will find money in the budget to fill the vacancy.
Wyoming Police received 799 complaints last year, Willey said. There are 10 to 15 complaints per week, and the biggest complaints are burglaries and domestics, he said. But they have investigated some rapes and robberies.
Wyoming Police handle all investigations on their own with the exception of murders and fatal accidents, which the Delaware State Police is better equipped to handle, he said.
Plus, Wyoming has a good relationship with Delaware State Police Troop 3 and the Camden, Capital, Dover and Cheswold police departments, among others.
“Everybody’s short with manpower, so everybody pitches in to help each other out,” he said.
Willey still goes on patrol for much of his day shift, and he is on call 24 hours a day.
“A police officer is not just a police officer,” he said. “He is basically a jack of all trade, master of none. Sometimes, you’ve got to be a counselor. Sometimes, you’ve got to be a friend. You’ve got to be a tough guy.”
He prefers to go into a situation at low stress, calm level.
“When you deal with people, the first impression you make with them sets the tone,” Willey said. “If I go in relaxed, calm, cool and collected, it’s easier to escalate it if you need to versus the other way. And it works.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time you can take care of things just by talking,” he said. “Do you have to use force the 1 percent? Yes. And you’ll know that when you need to.”