Dover Chief of Police James E. Hosfelt Jr. has announced he will retire from the force on April 4.

Just a little less than four years after taking on the job of Dover’s top cop, Chief of Police James E. Hosfelt Jr. has announced his retirement, effective April 4.

Hosfelt, 52, succeeded Jeffrey Horvath as the city’s 12th police chief on April 1, 2010.

News of Hosfelt’s departure came through the police department’s public affairs officer, Cpl. Mark Hoffman, who said the chief will hold a formal announcement in the near future.

Hoffman offered no particulars on Hosfelt’s future prospects other than to say the chief plans to go into private industry.

Dover Mayor Carleton E. Carey Sr., who, under the city charter is responsible for the police department, said he already is looking for a replacement

“I think he figures it’s time to move on to something else,” Carey said of Hosfelt’s departure. “I hate to lose him because he’s been a great, great police chief.”

Hosfelt came to the city police department in September 1988 following seven-year enlistment in the Air Force. In a Dover Post interview conducted after his appointment as chief, he recalled thinking that with several hundred applicants that year, his chances at being accepted were slim.  But the department hired seven new patrolmen, and Hosfelt was among them.

As a corporal, Hosfelt was named the National Rifle Association’s Officer of the Year in 1998 for his leadership in apprehending five men who were preparing to rob a Dover restaurant. His actions also were commended by the Delaware General Assembly.

Hosfelt has served on the department’s motorcycle and special enforcement units, the drug, vice and organized crime section, and was commander of the force’s criminal investigations unit and in charge of the operations division before being promoted to major and named deputy chief in 2009.

Carey said he already is looking for a replacement, indicating the next chief will come from within ranks of the department. The next three senior officers are Deputy Chief Paul Bernat and Capts. Timothy Stump and Robert Scott.

“I’d like to have a selection made by the time the chief actually retires,” Carey said. That selection process includes a review of the officers’ personnel files and an interview with each.

The mayor added he’s amenable to input from Dover residents.

“I’m always willing to hear from anyone who has a recommendation and why they might recommend that person,” he said. “I’m open to phone calls from citizens; I have no problem with that.

“I want to look at the whole big picture.”

The new chief of police will have several major issues to deal with. There has been criticism of police tactics from some quarters of Dover’s African American community, and the police, like other municipal departments, find themselves facing tight budgets while the city struggles with a multi-million deficit.

Hoffman said Hosfelt's decision to retire was not connected to the department's current investigation of a Dover Police officer.

Hosfelt’s wife, Sherry, is a teacher at William Henry High School; they have two children, Jenna Starke, who is a registered nurse, and Jacob, a 2013 graduate of Polytech High School, currently serving in the U.S. Air Force.