Gun-related violence is at an all-time high, and curbing it requires a deeper and broader approach by his department, says Marvin C. Mailey Jr., Dover’s police chief since May. There was an increase of 14.7 percent in violent crime from 2015 to 2016, which former Chief Paul Bernat curbed by occasionally targeting high-crime areas with special units, Mailey says. And “zero tolerance for downtime crime,” even infractions as minor as loitering and panhandling, has helped relieve crime overall.
But drugs—“a heroin epidemic that’s plaguing all the cities in the area,” Mailey says—could upend that progress. Mailey, 50, leads by example, mentoring children and participating in community outreach. He believes there’s improvement in how the city’s 37,000 residents perceive his 10 officers and 30 support staff.
The New York native moved to Delaware in 1989 to be a correctional officer. He joined the Dover Police in 1993, serving in the patrol unit, the Drug Enforcement Agency task force, and the drugs, vice and organized crime unit. He was also a patrol unit supervisor, community policing supervisor and internal affairs staff member. He became deputy chief in April 2014.
Mailey is encouraged by all the “smart, hard-working young people” around him, including cadets in a program that was restored this summer. “When you have people who buy into your philosophy, it makes it work.” One possible solution to the heroin problem, he says: Revive the Angel program, in which addicts are encouraged to reach out to police for help, without fear of arrest.