Dover police chief presents 2023 report to City Council

By Benjamin Rothstein
Posted 4/10/24

Between 2022-23, the Dover Police Department issued 70% more speeding tickets and also recovered much larger quantities of drugs from the streets.

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Dover police chief presents 2023 report to City Council


DOVER — Between 2022-23, the capital city’s police department issued 70% more speeding tickets and also recovered much larger quantities of drugs from the streets.

Those were among the details given by Dover Police Chief Tom Johnson on Monday, when he delivered his annual report to City Council. He covered topics from overall police activity to weapons cases to drug recovery to traffic enforcement.

In 2023, the number of emergency calls processed by the police department rose about 4%, from 41,421 to 43,045. He also pointed out that calls for shots fired fell by 15%, from 160 to 136. The number of shots-fired cases that officers could confirm also dropped, as well as the number of injuries via gunfire, from 22 to 11.

Victim Services statistics determined that the most common victims of any crimes in Dover were Black women between ages 25-59. Meanwhile, female victims were over double the number of male victims.

Regarding drug recovery, there was a large jump from 2022. For example, just over 126 grams of heroin were recovered two years ago, compared to just over 1,101 grams in 2023. And nearly 2,000 grams of cocaine were obtained in 2022, with over 13,600 last year.

Similar increases were reported for ecstasy and fentanyl, and Chief Johnson explained that they were related to one particular case.

“We became aware of a situation through our partnerships and our networking that was a big impact on Dover (and) that ended up becoming a federal wiretap investigation, dubbed ‘In the Trenches,’” he said. “Fast-forward to the end, a whole bunch of drugs. A whole bunch of money. Four firearms, four defendants. Three different properties had search warrants in Dover that netted what you see here. All these federal indictments are still pending.”

As for traffic enforcement, speeding tickets jumped 70%, from 385 to 654, as did citations for running stop signs, up 46%. There were over 2,200 crashes and five vehicular deaths.

Chief Johnson also took an opportunity to acknowledge his staff during the presentation.

“I’m going to start by just announcing that I work with great people. And the strength of the annual report ... is built on 150 or so other individuals, both sworn and civilian, that combined to deliver,” he said.

“We know that we’re the biggest piece of the budget resource, and when you’re considering that, you have to know that you’re getting value back for your investment.”

Chief Johnson went over each of his agency’s units, its leaders and what they are responsible for.

He touched on the Community Policing Section and its efforts, like Coffee With a Cop, Habitat for Humanity projects and Roy, the therapy dog.

The chief also covered a variety of high-profile cases from 2023, which yielded several lifesaving awards for the employees involved. One of those was a June 11 trespassing call that escalated into a hostage situation. Chief Johnson said Officer Samuel Seibert, who was the second on scene, ended up shooting the suspect to save the two hostages.

“As a police officer, when you have a hostage situation, you’ve got to keep control of that hostage situation if you can, and allowing a barricade to develop after that statistically opens up the door to a lot more bad outcomes,” he said.

“End of the road to this story is Sam had to make a decision. Sam, when he had the opportunity, when all the conditions were in his favor, he fired one round. His shot found where it was supposed to go. The suspect was neutralized, the mother and a child rescued.

”Subsequently, officers provided first aid to the suspect, leading to his survival, Chief Johnson added. Officer Seibert was cleared of any wrongdoing and later dubbed the department’s Officer of the Year, alongside Elizabeth Turner of the Records Unit, the Civilian of the Year.
The chief also opened the floor to questions, and council members had many.

Councilman Brian Lewis asked about the department’s one-person Animal Control Unit, which had a single hire in September 2023, an employee who left less than a month later. Chief Johnson responded that there has been difficulty filling the spot, and that the staffer simply was not a good fit.

Councilman Lewis also inquired about the agency’s diversity, to which the chief replied that it reaches out to organizations like the NAACP to find officer candidates. He also noted that there is a recruit in the current police academy class that would be the department’s first Muslim officer.

Councilman David Anderson asked about the cadet program, and Chief Johnson described its troubles.

“We haven’t been doing well for probably two-and-a-half to three straight years,” he said. “We’ve been trying for a couple of years now, between (Delaware Technical Community College) and (Delaware State University), to try and see if we can find a connection where it’s a little bit more seamless.

“But the amount of time it takes to get somebody hired and trained to function is almost the semester, and you almost have to be a half a year out in front of the group that might need what they don’t know ... they need yet. So, it’s a little bit of logistic struggle.”

In addition, Councilman Roy Sudler jokingly asked about the name of the department’s dog.

“So, it’s in regards to the canine Roy, who shares my first name,” the councilman said. “So, my question is, when I’m near the dog, you’re not going to one day ask, ‘Will the real Roy please stand up?’”

“I absolutely guarantee you that will not happen,” the chief replied.

The department’s full 2023 report can be found at

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