Dover Mayor Carleton E. Carey has selected Maj. Paul Bernat as the next chief of police for the city.

Dover Mayor Carleton E. Carey Sr. has selected the city’s deputy chief of police to move to the top spot on the force, effective April 4.

Carey announced the selection of Maj. Paul Bernat shortly before 3 p.m. March 25.

“I thought Paul was the best choice of the three men I looked at,” Carey said. “I think he’ll do a terrific job as police chief of the city of Dover.”

Carey said he’d been evaluating Bernat and the other two candidates, Operations Division Commander Capt. Robert Scott and Administration Division Commander Capt. Timothy Stump since current Chief of Police James E. Hosfelt Jr. announced his retirement on March 4.

By law, nominees for police chief must come from within the ranks of the Dover department.

Carey conducted a similar search in 2010, elevating Hosfelt from the deputy chief slot upon the retirement of then-Chief Jeffrey Horvath.

The mayor said that in addition to interviewing all three candidates, he had screened all of their personnel records and job evaluations written over the past five years.

He also received suggestions from a number of Dover residents as to whom the new chief should be, Carey said.

Bernat was excited about the prospect of leading the department, which he joined in 1988.

“I’m looking forward to all the challenges ahead of me,” he said.

“It’s a great honor to be the leader of this great police department,” Bernat said. “I’m looking forward to meeting with community leaders and putting forth my best efforts to make the city of Dover a safer place to live and to visit.”

A 2009 graduate of the FBI Academy, Bernat will continue the fight against the illegal drug trade as a priority of the department.

“Drugs are the catalyst of all crime,” he said. “I also think we need to maintain the three-year low of violent crime rates in the city, and continue to maintain our high rates for clearing burglaries and robberies.”

In his March 24 report to City Council, Hosfelt had reported a significant drop in violent crimes in the city as well as a 65 percent success rate in solving robberies and burglaries.

Bernat plans to focus on community policing within Dover neighborhoods and working with and establishing new neighborhood watch organizations. He also is looking at a means of creating an electronic version of the traditional neighborhood watch, which would allow Dover residents to use social media to communicate between neighborhoods.

Hosfelt said he is pleased with Carey’s choice.

“The mayor put in his due diligence and I think he made a wise decision,” the outgoing chief said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Paul throughout our careers, and I think it’s a good fit for the department and for the community as a whole.

Carey said he plans to formally elevate Bernat to the rank of chief of police April 4, the same day Hosfelt retires.

Hosfelt has announced plans to work security issues at the Dover International Speedway following his departure from the police force.