A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CITY OF DOVER POLICE DEPARTMENT
The City of Dover Police Department was established in 1925 when Mr. J. Wallace Woodford, the President of the City Council, appointed Mr. I. Lane as Dover’s first Chief of Police at a salary of $25.00 per week.
In 1929, a charter change resulted in Council President Woodford being selected as Dover’s first Mayor. Later in 1929, Mr. James Selvy was appointed the second Chief of Police following the resignation of Chief Lane. Chief Selvy resigned and was succeeded by Chief Maurice B. Farr who served as Chief of Police until 1948. By 1936, the Dover Police Department boasted seven full time sworn officers, including Chief Farr, a Lieutenant and five Patrolmen.
In 1948, Clifford Artis was appointed as fourth Chief of Police but resigned in 1949 because of ill health. On May 16, 1949, Mayor William J. Storey recruited James E. Turner Sr., a Major with the Delaware State Police, to serve as the next Chief of Police. Chief Turner was asked to reorganize the police department. At that time, the police department was located in two rooms in the basement of City Hall. These same two rooms housed the police department since 1934.
On, July 1, 1949, the City of Dover Police Department was relocated to 12 King Street, which had been the private residence of the late Dr. Cecil de J. Harbordt. The complement of personnel at that time consisted of the Chief of Police, two Lieutenants, one Sergeant and eight Patrolmen. In 1950, a new radio system was installed replacing the old system, which had been operated via remote control from the basement in City Hall.
Chief Turner did reorganize the police department. Some of the initial reorganization moves initiated by Chief Turner were: a complete new records system; fingerprinting and photographing of all criminal arrests; establishing of in-service training schools with instructors including staff from the FBI; and utilization of the Delaware State Police and Wilmington Bureau of Police Training Schools for all Dover Police recruits. Another innovation was the establishment of a Criminal Investigation Unit and Identification Division.
In 1956, the Dover Police Department was relocated to North New Street and William Streets where it remained until 1967. Personnel in 1956 numbered eighteen sworn officers and eight civilian employees.
The year of 1965 marked the beginning of assigned personnel to out-of-state professional training to include Northwestern University, the University of Maryland and the FBI National Academy.
In November 1967, the police department moved into a modern $400,000 facility located at 400 S. Queen Street where it is located today. On November 31, 1967, Chief Turner retired after serving the citizens of Dover for eighteen and one-half years.
Chief William L. Spence Jr. was appointed Chief of Police to replace Chief Turner. Chief Spence became the sixth Chief of Police for the City of Dover Police Department. In 1968, there were 24 sworn officers, 5 civilians and a budget of $42,154.00. The Annual Report to Council for the year 1968 reported a total of 3,985 calls for service, 1,237 traffic arrests, 1,206 criminal arrests, 735 traffic accidents and 2,744 city ordinance summons were issued. In 1969, there were approximately 16,000 residents in the City of Dover’s nine square mile area, which was protected by 38 officers and 7 civilians.
During Chief Spence’s tenure he hired the first female officer for the City of Dover Police Department. Chief Spence is also credited with changing the shoulder patch from the round shoulder patch which civilian employees of the City of Dover still wear to this date to the current shoulder patch worn by the sworn officers of Dover Police Department. Chief Spence retired in 1979.
Chief Joe A. Klenoski succeeded Chief Spence. On November 19, 1982, the City of Dover Police Department building was rededicated and named the James E. Turner Sr. building. In 1988, there were 56 officers and 18 civilians employed by the police department. Chief Klenoski retired in 1988.
Chief James L. Hutchison was appointed as Chief of Police in May of 1988. During his tenure, Chief Hutchison concentrated on creating a proactive police department focusing on Community Policing. Chief Hutchison added bicycle and K-9 patrols. Personnel were increased from 56 sworn officers to 80 sworn officers and 19 civilians. The department began to move toward national accreditation. Recognizing the need for expansion, Chief Hutchison initiated steps toward a referendum that was unfortunately defeated by the citizens of Dover. In 1992, Chief Hutchison retired.
In December of 1992, Chief J. Richard Smith was appointed to succeed Chief Hutchison. Chief Smith continued Chief Hutchison’s efforts to expanding the police department’s building. A second referendum was presented to the taxpayers and passed on May 17, 1994. This expansion project increased the size of the building from 17,000 square feet to a total of 49,000 square feet at a cost of $4.5 million. Chief Smith increased the authorized strength to 81 officers and utilizing grant funding sources, was able to purchase a tremendous amount of equipment to officers to assist them in their efforts to combat crime. Chief Smith held the distinction of being the youngest Chief of Police in the City of Dover’s History. Chief Smith retired from the department in 1997.
In June of 1997, Keith I. Faulkner was appointed as Chief of Police for the City of Dover Police Department, becoming the tenth Chief of Police. For the year ending in 1997, there were 81 sworn officers, 26 civilian employees and 5 volunteers and a budget of $7,040,000.00. The 1997 Annual Report to City Council reported a total of 24,912 calls for service, 11,502 traffic arrests, 3,842 criminal arrests, 2,277 traffic accidents, and 10.386 city ordinance summons issued. In August 1997 the department moved into the new police station, which included many improvements and additional features. Some of these included new holding facility that meets national accreditation and federal standards, which included separate holding facilities for women, men and juveniles. The indoor firing range was upgraded to meet OSHA standards. Separate locker rooms for men and women; a separate and secure communications center. A Public Assembly room that can accommodate 125 people was opened to community groups. An evidence processing room was also added for use in the proper processing of recovered property and evidence. The facility was brought up to ADA standards as well as the current fire code (the old building had only one stairway to the second floor which violated current fire code standards). The Records Unit was upgraded and expanded with a secure storage facility for police records.
Under the leadership of Chief Faulkner, the City of Dover Police Department gained the status of National Accreditation. Chief Faulkner retired from the department in March of 2001.
On March 2, 2001, the Honorable Mayor of the City of Dover, Mayor James L. Hutchison, swore in Major Jeffrey Horvath as Chief of Police. Upon being sworn in as Chief of Police, Chief Jeffrey Horvath became the eleventh Chief of Police for the City of Dover Police Department. He also became the youngest Chief of Police replacing Chief J. Richard Smith (1992 – 1997) who was previously the youngest Chief in the department’s history.
On March 24, 2001 the most dreaded call any police officer can receive occurred. Chief Horvath was notified a member of Dover Police Department, Pfc. David Spicer had been shot in the line of duty. Pfc. Spicer along with Probation and Parole Officer Doug Watts, were working the Safe Streets Program within the City of Dover. They were attempting to affect an arrest of a suspect for a drug transaction. During a brief foot pursuit, the suspect stopped turned and fired upon Pfc. Spicer striking him several times. Probation and Parole Officer Watts returned fire at the suspect, as did Pfc. Spicer. Probation and Parole Officer Watts has been credited with saving Pfc. Spicer’s life. The suspect was apprehended after an extensive manhunt. Pfc. Spicer survived his wounds.
Through this trying time and other traumatic events Chief Horvath stood by his officers in an unwavering stance. He maintained the morale and dedication of the Dover Police Department in the truest sense of the word.
In September 2001, Chief Horvath and his staff were able to obtain permission from the Mayor and City Council to create, and promote, two (2) additional Sergeant positions and three (3) new Corporal positions for a total of seven (7) officers being promoted. This was quite a large increase in rank all at one time. Such an increase has never been seen in the history of Dover Police Department before. This was quite an achievement for our Chief of Police and his staff.
May 22, 2002 was a fantastic day for the Dover Police Department and Chief Horvath; Pfc. David Spicer was medically cleared by his doctor to return to full duty. His recovery was approximately fourteen (14) months in duration and included many long days of hard, intensive, physical therapy and dedication on PFC Spicer’s part. His determination to recover from his injuries and to return to full duty as a police officer for the City of Dover Police Department gave him the strength to accomplish this goal. His family and many friends assisted him. Pfc. Spicer was assigned to the Criminal Investigation Unit.
In December 2002, inspectors from CALEA returned to Dover Police Department for our first re-accreditation. The three inspectors were from different departments around the country. They spent three days inspecting every aspect of the department. The inspectors graded the department very high in our work following CALEA guidelines.
During January 2003, Chief Horvath was able to re-create a position, which had been lost approximately 5 years previous. This position held the rank of Lieutenant and was in charge of the Special Enforcement Unit. With the establishment of this newly created position, three (3) officers received promotions, (1) Lieutenant, (1) Sergeant and (1) Corporal. The functions of the Special Enforcement Unit, which is comprised of the Motorcycle Unit, Community Policing Unit, Parking Enforcement Unit and Animal Control Unit, were transferred from the Patrol Unit Commander to the newly created Special Enforcement Unit Commander.
August 5, 2004 was another mile stone in the history of the Dover Police Department and Chief Jeffrey Horvath. On this date, the department retired the badges which have been worn by members of the Dover Police Department for over 30 years. The new shield project was assigned to Captain Ray Sammons and after approximately 1 ½ years a design was approved by Chief Horvath. The new shield is larger than the old badge. It has a colored City of Dover seal in the center.
September 9, 2004 the department received funding from the COPS office in the form of a grant which enables the department to place two officers into our local schools. This endeavor has been in the planning phase for some time. With this funding, one officer will be assigned to Dover High School while the second officer will be assigned to Central Middle School. The officers who will become Dover Police Department’s first SRO officers are PFC Keith Hester and PFC Danny Ranger.
2004 was also the year when the City of Dover, the Dover Police Department and the Delaware Department of Transportation entered into an agreement to participate in a pilot program regarding Red Light Video Camera Enforcement. During 2004 a camera was installed at the intersection of U.S. Route 13 and Webbs Lane. During 2005, five additional red light cameras will be installed within the city of Dover in an attempt to reduce red light violations and more specifically to reduce the number of intersection related accidents and possible fatalities. This pilot program will ultimately see 20 red light cameras state wide.
2005 is proving to be a very busy year for the Dover Police Department. The department has been in the planning and development stages for a few years on several projects which are scheduled to be started and completed this year. Some of these projects include; upgrading our 800 MHz dispatch radios, new dispatch console furniture, upgrading our 911 telephone system, Statewide Mapping program, building a central server room on the second floor.
July 1, 2005 the authorized strength of the Dover Police Department was increased from 87 sworn members to 90 sworn officers. With the addition of the 3 new officers, the department will bring back and institute on a full time basis the Quality of Life Task Force. This task force first appeared during calendar year of 2004 and was a huge success. There were 7 officers assigned who concentrated their efforts on violations which directly affected quality of life offenses.
November 27, 2005 the 9-1-1 Center, located at the Dover Police Department, was officially vacated and resumed operations at the Kent County Dispatch Center for the first time since we started 9-1-1 operations in August 1997. Demolition of our current 9-1-1 console furniture started in preparation for the installation of our new console furniture, radios and telephone. This equipment was obtained through grant funding with a price tag of over one million dollars.
During December 2005, the Dover Police Department again welcomed the inspectors from CALEA who arrived to conduct our second re-accreditation. As before, the inspectors were from different police departments around the country. They spent three days inspecting every aspect of the department. The inspectors rated the department very highly in our efforts to follow CALEA guidelines and standards.
In April of 2010, following graduation from the FBI National Academy, Chief James E. Hosfelt Jr. was appointed by Mayor Carlton Carey as the 12th Chief of Police for the City of Dover Police Department after serving 22 years in both the Operations and Administrative Divisions of the Police Department. Chief Hosfelt’s career began in 1988 when he attended the police academy after serving seven years active duty with the U.S. Air Force.
At the time Chief Hosfelt assumed command of the Dover Police Department, there were 122 employees including 91 sworn officers and 31 civilian employees that were responsible for police services to 37,000 residents living within 40 square miles. The budget for the police department was approximately 13 million dollars.
In 2010, Chief Hosfelt created the Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Section. The new section was assigned to the Criminal Investigations Unit and was staffed by one detective who was required to possess prior Criminal Unit experience and be a graduate of the prestigious National Forensics Academy at the University of Tennessee. The duties assigned to this section included processing of major crime scenes, DNA collection along with processing and tracing of firearms and ammunition seized during arrests.
With the rise in violent crime, and the belief it was tied to criminal gang activity, Chief Hosfelt worked in cooperation with the Capital School District to establish the “GREAT” middle school education program. The acronym, GREAT, stands for Gang Resistance Education and Training. This program is geared to preteen students to make them aware of the detriments of gangs and their affect on families. The School Resource Officers who formally taught DARE made the much needed transition, teaching this program to 6th graders at William Henry Middle School.
The Dover Police Department has always been a great place to work. The officers and staff are proud of their ability to proactively serve our community while being known as a family first agency. As a result, the employees of the department voted the agency a Delaware Top Ten Workplace as recognized by Delaware Today magazine.
In 2011, the Dover Police Department continued to “do more with less”. Budget constraints made it necessary for the men and women of the Dover Police Department to work harder and smarter than ever due to the reduction of staffing levels. In spite of that, the department underwent its fifth National CALEA accreditation and was awarded the “Accreditation with Excellence” award, which is the gold standard for public safety agencies. Never before had the department received this recognition. The Dover Police Department was one of 35 law enforcement agencies nationwide to receive this honor and the only one within the State of Delaware.
The Special Operations Response Team (SORT) has always been a team comprised of veteran officers who have completed extensive physical testing as well as firearms proficiency. For nearly 20 years, Chief Hosfelt worked as a member of this team or commanded it and saw the need for updated equipment. In 2012, Chief Hosfelt secured a grant through Homeland Security which allowed the department to purchase a Bearcat Armored Response Vehicle and a new inventory of patrol rifles.
Also in 2012, the Dover Police Department partnered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and assigned a detective to their task force. The mission of the task force was to focus on gang activity, gun trafficking and violent crime within the State of Delaware.
The Dover Police Department began a Veterans Recognition Program after realizing a need to identify those officers who had proudly served our country. The department’s veterans were recognized in the police department’s Annual Report and provided with a ribbon of stars and stripes to wear on their uniforms.
In 2013, Chief Hosfelt continued to find new ways to not only solve crime, but prevent it by making Dover a safer city through information sharing. Clearance rates, in all major crime reporting categories, continued to be among some of the highest in the country; something our department had grown accustomed to throughout the years. Without the possibility of increasing staffing levels, Chief Hosfelt and his staff worked with the office of the Mayor for increased funding to improve the Downtown Security Camera Program. The program began in 2009 with 6 cameras and by the end of 2013 the department increased the number of cameras throughout the downtown Dover area to 35. While it was not economically feasible to put a police officer on every corner, Chief Hosfelt felt it was possible to put a camera on every corner. The camera project has proven itself invaluable and has helped to solve and prevent homicides, illegal drug activity and other violent offenses.
Due to close working relationships with state legislators, Chief Hosfelt was able to change existing state laws allowing all municipal and county police departments to hire retired law enforcement officers as Sex Offender Registry Enforcement Agents. It was believed that hiring retired officers to perform this function would provide a positive impact to the budget and would free up sworn officers currently serving in this capacity to serve in other more critical areas of the department.
Chief Hosfelt and his staff also worked to improve community relations through the Public Information Officer (PIO) and created a Public Affairs Office in the fall of 2013. Cpl. Mark Hoffman was assigned the responsibilities of the office. This year saw the Dover Police Department adding social media platforms to the responsibility of the PIO. Through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, the MYPD mobile App and the RAIDS Online Crime Mapping program the department has been able to connect with the citizens of Dover quickly and more efficiently than ever before. The PIO sends safety messages, public service announcements, crime alerts, educational videos, and more through social media outlets. Since the inception of the program in October of 2013, the department has seen tremendous success in solving crimes, crime prevention, public communication and reputation management.
After serving four years as Chief of Police and 26 years with the department, Chief Hosfelt retired in April of 2014.
Chief James Hosfelt retired in April of 2014 and Chief Paul Bernat was appointed as his successor by Mayor Carleton Carey. Chief Paul Bernat wasted no time in taking the helm of the City of Dover Police Department and started by redefining and building on the success of the Public Information Officer position. Through programs such a Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, the MyPD Mobile App, and the RAIDS Online Crime Mapping program, the department has been able to connect with the citizens of Dover quickly and more efficiently than ever before. Since the inception of the program, the department has seen tremendous success in solving crimes, crime prevention, public communication and reputation management. The Public Affairs Office also works closely with the Community Policing Unit on various community outreach projects such as National Night Out, Holiday Heroes, coat drives, and community meetings.
In April 2014, Chief 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 at the Parkway Academy Central School.
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 fell into the hands of children or illicit drug offenders.
In January 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 receive more officers to help better combat crime and serve the community. Units that received additional personnel were: the Street Crime Unit, the Criminal Investigation Unit, School Resource Officer Unit, Motorcycle Unit, and the Planning and Training Unit. Chief Bernat was able to accomplish this much needed reorganization by civilianizing the accreditation unit and the sex offender unit, thus freeing up more officers to be strategically placed in areas that would be most beneficial to the police department and the City of Dover. The civilianizing of the positions put the authorized strength of police officers to 101 and added the three civilian positions for a total of 40 civilian employees.
In March 2015, the Dover Police Department again welcomed the inspectors from CALEA who arrived to conduct our re-accreditation. As before, the inspectors were from different police departments around the country. They spent three days inspecting every aspect of the department. During this re-accreditation the department received the Meritorious Award for maintaining 15 years of accreditation.
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 as they routinely patrol the area on their bicycles and on foot.
Chief Bernat recognized the need to look for patterns and to predict crimes based from data and a full time civilian Crime Analyst/Accreditation Manager position was added in July 2015.
In December 2015, Chief Bernat was honored to promote an unprecedented 21 officers throughout all ranks of the department. The promotion ceremony was so large it needed to be moved from the police station to the Schwartz Center in downtown Dover. Recognizing the need for leadership development and succession planning Bernat sent six newly promoted officers to prestigious 10 week command schools. During 2015 and 2016 two attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia and four attended the Northwestern Police Command School.
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.
February 2016 marked the initiation of Police Athletic League (PAL) program with the dedication of one full time police officer in hopes of connecting with community youth.
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.
Additionally, under Bernat’s direction, the Dover Police Department received the NAACP President’s Award in 2016. Announcing the event, the NAACP said, “Under the leadership of Chief Bernat, the Dover Police Department has become the national model for what it means to build bridges of trust or partnerships between law enforcement and the African American Community.
Other significant accomplishments during Chief Bernat’s tenure include reorganization of personnel to include an additional Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) position, an additional Planning and Training Officer to handle the increase in training for the young department, and a full time Firearms Officer. Chief Bernat was also able to obtain a Field Force Team, including new riot gear and travel trailer for transport and storage of the equipment. Chief Bernat was also able to obtain funding to enhance officers safety by adding an additional 73 AR-15 Rifles to operations. Finally, in December 2016, the Dover Police Department launched its first Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Unit. The Unit consists of three drones with three officers that are certified drone pilots.