Starboard owner makes pitch for new police chief
The following letter was sent to Dewey Beach commissioners with a copy provided to the Cape Gazette for publication. It was edited to meet the Cape Gazette’s word limit.
I was fortunate to serve on the search committee for our current town manager. It makes me smile every day to think about how fortunate we are to have landed an individual such as Bill Zolper. As someone who owns multiple properties in Dewey and has worked in this town going on 40 years, I feel an obligation to share thoughts on the search for a new police chief.
Lt. Billy Hocker has twice served as acting police chief. He's one of our own, from this community. The first time was nearly a decade ago when then Chief Sam Mackert had a heart attack, and the second was this past summer season upon Mackert's retirement. Both times the police department operated efficiently, safely and professionally without any major incidents. Personally, I feel he should be rewarded, and, hopefully, he will be soon by removing the “acting” title. I have worked with Lt. Hocker and his team as much as any other businessman in town. I am honored to be able to employ one of his officers in front of my business on weekend nights eight months out of the year. That gives me as much of a working relationship with these officers as most any resident or business owner.
Billy Hocker is not Sam Mackert; he looked up to Sam for many years, and he has been at Sam’s side as lieutenant. He has a different management style and appears ready to make the changes necessary as the world around us continues to change. He learned so much from Sam, but he’s also learned how to do things his own way.
Police officers and school teachers are two of the hardest positions to hire for. We are fortunate to have a terrific police force. These men and women respect and are rooting for Lt. Hocker to be their leader. Dewey is different from any surrounding towns. These men and women want to be in Dewey – it's surely not for everyone. These men and women could work elsewhere for higher pay, but they choose to be here and they expect Lt. Hocker to follow in Chief Mackert’s footsteps. I join his officers in rooting for Lt. Hocker to replace Mackert.
During the search for a town manager, we had many interviews with qualified individuals, many loaded with experience. Two business owners on that committee spoke out, both knowing Bill Zolper well. They said the benefits of having someone with little-to-no experience, but who is local and knows our community well far outweighs bringing in someone unfamiliar with Dewey. This is a small community, a close community, and we all work together. We’ve hit a home run with Bill Zolper. I ask you in the strongest manner possible to award the police chief position to Lt. Hocker. The community around you is rooting for him, in and outside Dewey.
This is a serious decision. I hope you work together and consider the recommendations from those of us who have our livelihoods invested in Dewey. We want what is best for this town, and taking care of one of our own is almost always the smart play. It certainly is in this case.