Maj. Elmer Harris, the new chief of Delaware’s Capitol Police Department has worked his way up through the ranks twice during a long law enforcement career.
On September 11, the department announced Maj. Elmer Harris’ promotion to the top spot, taking over for retiring Chief Michael Hertzfeld, who was with the Capitol Police for 14 years.
Before joining the Capitol Police, Harris had a long career with the Wilmington Police Department. He started as an officer in 1984, and over the years received a number of promotions. Harris retired as inspector in charge of uniformed operations, a position overseeing multiple divisions. He then started over, becoming a corporal with the Capitol Police in 2017 and moving up to major before his current promotion.
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He says he wanted to lead by doing in the promotion process, building a culture within Capitol Police that is inclusive and diverse and reflects the values expected of public servants.
Harris also has military experience in the Army and Army Reserves.
In the announcement, Secretary of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security Nathaniel McQueen noted Harris’ decades of experience. “Chief Harris is a qualified, experienced and proven leader. I am confident in his ability to lead the women and men of The Capitol Police Department.”
Harris takes the helm of a department that, he reflects, is quite different from his city police job. The Capitol Police work more behind the scenes, handling security at a large number of state facilities that touch the lives of residents all over the state, from court buildings to the state legislature and the governor’s mansion.
As chief, Harris says he hopes to continue to grow the agency as it prepares for new family courts in Sussex and Kent counties. He also wants to engage positively with the community, diversify the force and “ensure that we continue to treat everyone with dignity, humanity and compassion.”
Harris says he’s never forgotten where he came from in the ranks.
“I always led by example, even at the highest level. I go around and see what our folks are doing on a daily basis and, sometimes, help perform the same duties that they do. And I think it goes a long way.”