Members of Dover’s Police Chief Selection Committee on the night of Feb. 14 turned to a job qualification description that has been on the books for seven years as their standard for picking the new head of the Dover Police Department.
Three possible candidates for the job, Deputy Chief Marvin Mailey, Capt. Timothy Stump and Capt. David Spicer were at the meeting, although none made any comments during the meeting.
In using the February 2009 job description, the five-member panel seemed to settle a major issue hanging over the proceedings: establishing the education level for prospective candidates.
In accordance with the job description, an applicant for the job is required to have a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in training and experience.
A draft of the qualifications listing, accidentally published online through the Delaware State News, made no exceptions to the bachelor’s degree requirement, and also noted a master’s degree would have been preferred.
Taken by many as a genuine job posting, the erroneous draft raised a firestorm of protest when it appeared on the Monster.com and Indeed.com websites.
It eventually was removed and the city received a letter of apology for the incident.
The 7-page position description adopted by the selection committee is available online at the city of Dover’s website at https://tinyurl.com/police-chief-description.
In other actions on the evening’s agenda, the panel approved a timeline for the search, with applicants having until March 17 to submit their paperwork. The selection committee will narrow down the list, with interviews to be done in April.
Christiansen has said he would like to have a new chief sworn in by the end of that month.
The question of funding for the search also came up on the agenda. For the first time, applicants are not required to come from the ranks of the Dover Police Department. Advertisements will be placed in local newspapers as well as a number of police and law-enforcement related publications and websites.
The committee unanimously approved a budget of $6,000 for the advertising effort.
The public comments
However, during public testimony, Dover resident Stan Camac said he considers looking for a new chief from outside Dover as “outrageous.”
He supports Mailey for the top job in the police department.
If Mailey is not the choice, Camac predicted riots and looting would take place.
“That doesn’t look good for anybody here in the city,” he said.
City resident George Gaudioso, on the other hand, felt the city should look at a larger pool of applicants.
He’s fine with Mailey -- or possibly someone else in the department -- getting the job, primarily if the department supports that individual, Gaudioso said.
However, he added, “What I see taking place here is politicking, politicking that is not in the best interest of the city as a whole.
“All I want you to do is your job,” he said, opening up the application process.
“I want you to select the best person according to the criteria that you established,” he said.
Gaudioso added he supports the idea of spending the money needed to advertise the chief’s position.
Earlier in the meeting, Councilman Roy Sudler expressed his opinion that Christiansen should step down from the committee following remarks the mayor made at a Jan. 9 staff meeting at the police department attended by Mailey as well as other senior officers.
Sudler, who was not at the meeting, and is not a member of the selection committee, said the mayor should resign from the panel because minutes from the staff meeting showed an angry Christiansen complaining -- sometimes in vulgar terms -- about comments by state Rep. Sean Lynn, D-Dover, as well as a Jan. 10 press conference by Sudler and the Rev. Rita Paige.
Lynn, Sudler and Paige used those forums to call upon Christiansen to immediately appoint Mailey to succeed retired Chief Paul M. Bernat.
Christiansen, however, has repeatedly said the rules governing the selection committee do not allow him to unilaterally appoint a chief.
In a Wednesday morning interview, the mayor said he felt any effort to push an individual’s candidacy instead of adhering to the selection process could “tarnish” that person.
“What I meant by that was, everyone there knew I admire certain people in that room,” Christiansen said. “But despite Sean Lynn’s threatening and bullying on his Facebook page and his letter he wrote to city council, it was important that the process has to go forward.”
At the meeting, however, Christiansen said he would not be stepping down.
“I appreciate your comments and I understand where they’re coming from,” Christiansen told Sudler, “and I will make them a part of the record.”
As the session adjourned, Christiansen said dates and times for future meetings would be announced.