Dover''s chief of police-designee plans to emphasize community policing and curbing drug trafficking in the city

Dover Chief of Police-designee Maj. Paul M. Bernat wasted little time organizing his command staff, announcing on Friday he had selected Lt. Marvin Mailey as his deputy chief. The news came during a press conference, only three days after Mayor Carleton E. Carey Sr. selected Bernat to succeed current Chief James E. Hosfelt Jr.

Mailey will be promoted to the rank of major, commensurate with Bernat’s installation as chief on April 4.

Bernat said Operations Division commander Capt. Rob Scott and Administrative Division commander Capt. Tim Stump will continue in those positions.

Sgt. David Spicer will take over as commander of the department’s criminal investigations unit, replacing Lt. Eric Richardson, who will head Internal Affairs. Spicer also will receive a promotion to lieutenant.

Lts. Jason Pires and Dan McKeown have switched jobs, with Pires now in charge of the patrol unit, and McKeown named to head the special enforcement unit.

A warning for dealers

Noting the drug trade continues to be the major source of criminal activity in the city, Bernat said he will begin his stint as police chief by warning drug dealers of an increased emphasis on combating illegal narcotics, directing drug users to find help, and educating the public on the dangers of drugs.

“If you are a drug dealer, you need to take your trade out of the city of Dover,” he said.

Noting it now is cheaper to buy that drug than illegally-obtained prescription pills, police will take a zero-tolerance attitude when it comes to investigating drug dealing and drug use, he said.

One detective will be reassigned from investigating burglaries and robberies to the drug enforcement unit to help curb an upswing in heroin use, Bernat said.

The department also will place a greater emphasis on community policing, working hand in hand with community leaders, civic associations and neighborhood watch organizations, Bernat said.

“I believe the Dover Police Department will do everything that it can to empower citizens to feel safe and to be safe,” he said.

As that happens, people will be more inclined to report suspicious and illegal activity, Bernat said, adding he plans to be personally meet and be involved with leaders in all communities throughout Dover.

That includes the black community, some parts of which have been at odds with the department.

“I feel totally comfortable talking with the African-American community,” Bernat said. “I don’t see a problem at all,” he added, noting that Mailey’s appointment as the department’s first black deputy chief was not related to bettering links with those communities.

“That is not why I think he’s here, if that’s the question you’re asking,” he said.

Mailey has an impeccable record as a law enforcement officer, Bernat said.

“He is a genuine individual, who is trusted throughout the department and I felt that is extremely important that the department sees some trust from the top to the department,” he said.

“He is a proven leader and I have 100 percent confidence in him.”

Carey: Good people needed

Bernat said he would show no preferential treatment toward his brother, Sgt. Chad Bernat, who also serves on the force.

“He knows that I do not give favoritism or partiality; if anything, he has it harder than any of these officers. You can ask him that and he’ll tell you the same,” Bernat said.

Bernat said he planned to serve only three years as chief, stepping down with 28 years of service.

“I have been to several executive management schools, and that is the rule of thumb, three years and get out,” he said.

Doing so will allow one of his staff members to serve as the next top cop, and, Bernat said with a laugh, “I’m 47, and I’ll be 50, and my wife said I can retire.”

Carey, who also was in attendance at the news conference, said he expected there would be no ill will as the result of his selection of Bernat over Scott and Stump, who were the other two candidates for the top job.

“No, no, it’s part of it, you know,” he said. “It’s very hard when you have three good people, to pick one out and say, ‘You’re going to be the next chief.’ It’s not an easy situation.”

Carey also said he’d like to see more diversity among the members of Dover’s police force, but that only can happen if people apply to join the department.

“Any time we can get a qualified person in line to come and go to the [police] academy, or if they’re already trained and certified, it doesn’t make any difference to us. It’s a great advantage to us,” he said.

“Good people is what it takes to be a good police officer,” Carey said.

Bernat will be formally installed as Dover’s 13th chief of police at a public ceremony at 1 p.m. Friday, April 4, at Dover Police headquarters.