Dover police chief set to retire

Dover Police Chief Paul Bernat speaks at a 2014 press conference. (File/WHYY)

Dover Police Chief Paul Bernat speaks at a 2014 press conference. (File/WHYY)

The New Year will bring in lots of changes throughout the state as people step into new positions and as others retire.

In Kent County, the Dover Police Department will say farewell to Chief Paul M. Bernat. The chief’s last day will be January 17th, 2017. He’s Dover’s 13th Police Chief who held the high ranking position since April 2014.

“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 Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen.

Over the past few years Bernat’s leadership helped the police department accomplish many things. In 2014, Bernat reinstated a program allowing officers to remain on the streets, removing many of them from the courtroom. He also installed a prescription drug drop-off box at the station, collecting 104 lbs. of medicine. There was even more to celebrate in 2015 after Chief Bernat was able to add 10 police officers to the force to fight crime thanks to funding he secured from the city. That year he also re-established the Dover Police Department Cadet program.

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By January of 2016, Bernat was awarded a $580,000 grant from the state to put more cameras up in downtown Dover, increasing the number of cameras from 35 to 108. The funding also supported programs to reduce crime and help with the Police Athletic League.

Also, this year more than 100 guns were taken off the streets and the local police partnered with the Police Assisted Addition and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) to tackle the heroin epidemic seen across the state. The Dover Police Department is the first in the state to partner with PAARI.

“Chief Bernat has made an incredible impact on the City of Dover and his service to the city is greatly appreciated,” Christiansen said.

According to officials, the city is working to have the position permanently filled by end of April next year. Mayor Christiansen will appoint an “Acting Chief of Police” on January 10, 2017.

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