Advisory groups to review Dewey police chief applicants

Town manager to present ranked recommendations to commissioners
September 23, 2022

Plans continue for the hiring of a new chief of police for the Town of Dewey Beach, as commissioners approved a resolution Sept. 16, creating advisory groups to assist the town manager with the hiring process.

Town Manager Bill Zolper said he envisioned three panels, each led by veteran police chiefs in other jurisdictions, with members who will conduct interviews and rank candidates to be presented to him. Members of the groups are current or former business owners, committee members and others with interest in the town, he said.

Then, Zolper said he would evaluate the ranked candidates with the police chiefs and submit his recommendations to town commissioners. He requested that former Mayor Diane Hanson be added as an alternate member to the group.

During public comment, former Commissioner David Moskowitz spoke via Zoom to state that certain members of the proposed advisory group, without naming names, have conflicts of interest.

Mayor Bill Stevens asked Town Counsel Fred Townsend to address the legitimacy of the proposed group. Townsend said the creation of an additional resource to assist the town manager does not violate town charter.

The advisory group will not be making the hire, Townsend said; rather, the town manager makes a recommendation to town commissioners, who hire the individual. Therefore, he said, the advisory group is distanced from the decision.

Commissioner Gary Persinger said he wished that involvement in the advisory group was offered publicly, and that he supported adding Hanson as an alternate.

Commissioner David Jasinski proposed adding language to the resolution that the advisory group’s recommendations are non-binding and that all candidates would be ranked, and not eliminated, the final list. Hanson was also added as an alternate. Any potential conflicts of interest among group members will be handled by the town manager.

Members of the advisory group panels include University of Delaware Chief of Police Pat Ogden, Rehoboth Beach Police Chief Keith Banks, Smyrna Chief of Police Torrie James, Joe Bak, David Lyons, Julie Johnson, Kay Miller, Ed Klima, Jim Dedes, Alex Pires, Steve Huse, Dale Cooke, Kay Sullivan, Marty Tarr, Phil Winkler and Dan Malley.

The panel will meet at 10 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 29, at Hyatt Place Dewey Beach and will convene in executive session, which is closed to the public, after the adoption of the agenda. For more information, go to

Former Chief Sam Mackert retired in June after 33 years of service with the town. Commissioners voted unanimously June 17 to name Lt. Billy Hocker as interim officer in charge of the police department until a new chief is selected.


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