Chief Paul M. Bernat has announced his retirement from the City of Dover Police Department, effective January 17th, 2017. Mayor Christiansen will appoint an “Acting Chief of Police” for the City of Dover on January 10, 2017. The City of Dover will be posting an advertisement with the goal that by the end of April we should have our newly appointed Chief of Police in place. “We are going to miss Chief Bernat, and all that he brought to the department and the accomplishments under his leadership and we wish he and his family, nothing but the best” said Mayor Christiansen.
Chief Bernat was appointed as the City of Dover’s 13th Police Chief on April 4, 2014. In April 2014, Bernat reinstated the Police Prosecution Project at JP7, allowing officers to remain on the streets instead of the court room. In September of 2014, Chief Bernat was able to add a police officer and created an additional SRO in the community.
In November 2014 the Dover Police Department installed a prescription drug drop off box in the lobby of the police department, the box is the responsibility of the DVOC Unit. In two months the DVOC Unit received a total of 104 lbs. of miscellaneous prescription drugs which could have fallen into the hands of children or illicit drug offenders.
In the beginning of 2015, Chief Bernat also aggressively pursued funding from the City of Dover to hire more police officers. As a result of his efforts and the efforts of his staff, the City of Dover Police Department gained an authorized strength of 103, which is an increase of an additional 10 police officers. As a result of these additional officers, special units were able to help better combat crime and serve the community.
In May 2015, Chief Bernat re-established the City of Dover Police Department Cadet program. This program was originally created several years ago, but hadn’t been utilized for numerous years. The cadet program allows 18 year olds and up that are successful in the hiring process, the opportunity to patrol the downtown streets of Dover, the library and other designated areas of the city giving more of a police presence and security to the community. Currently there are 9 Cadets that provide security to the businesses on Loockerman St. and the Dover Library.
Through Chief Bernat’s dedication to the City of Dover and the Dover Police Department, in January of 2016, he was able to secure a $580,000 grant from the State of Delaware Joint Finance Committee. This type of funding was previously unprecedented. The grant was utilized to put more cameras up in the downtown area of Dover, fund the cadet program until June 30, 2017, create foot patrols in the downtown high crime areas, create and supply the Police Athletic League, create a camera monitoring room in Dover Police dispatch and fund various community outreach programs. Chief Bernat continuously focused on building bridges with the community. Firmly believing in community security and safety, Chief Bernat focused on crime prevention by increasing the downtown camera system from its original 35 cameras to an astounding 108. This created the necessity for a camera monitoring room, which was quickly added and has become instrumental in solving and preventing crimes within the city.
In response to an increase in violent crimes, in January 2016, Chief Bernat created the Street Crimes Unit. This 7 officer unit headed by a sergeant, has been instrumental in removing illegal guns from the city of Dover. In 2016 there were over 100 guns taken off of the City streets.
In July 2016, in response to the heroin epidemic, Chief Paul M. Bernat announced that the Dover Police Department has partnered with the Police Assisted Addition and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) to establish the department’s addiction recovery program, the ANGEL Program. Dover Police Department is P.A.A.R.I.’s first partner in Delaware. Christiansen added, “Chief Bernat has made an incredible impact on the City of Dover and his service to the city is greatly appreciated.”
For more information on Chief Paul M. Bernat’s tenure, visit: HISTORY OF THE DOVER POLICE DEPARTMENT