South Bethany PD closing the gap, continues hiring

The South Bethany Police Department is slowly climbing back upward toward a full roster of five officers and one chief. Although there is only one actual vacancy left, there are months still until everyone is fully certified to be on the road.

Previously, the SBPD had six officer positions and a chief. In February of 2018, one officer left, and the town council eliminated that fulltime position. By April of 2019, another four officers and the chief had departed.

Sgt. Patrick Wiley remained at his station through the turmoil and has helped the department maintain service.

New Police Chief Jason Lovins arrived in June, with more than 25 years in law enforcement, from the Kentucky State Police to the Dewey Beach Police Department, plus his time in the U.S. Navy.

“The chief has continued to work tirelessly at rebuilding and staffing this department,” said South Bethany Mayor Tim Saxton.

In June, the town council voted to hire PFC Shaun Baldasano, to begin his duties July 1.

A graduate of St. Mark’s High School in Wilmington, he attended the Wilmington Police Academy, worked with Wilmington Police Department and spent the last two years with the Milton Police Department. As a U.S. Air Force veteran and current U.S. Air National Guard member, he resides in Georgetown and is married with two children.

Officer Killian Klopp was officially sworn in to SBPD, having passed his Delaware certification exam on July 8. He’s been working and training behind the scenes until now. With potentially a few more weeks of final field training, he will be eligible to work and patrol as a regular fulltime officer. Having transferred from another state, he had police experience but needed official Delaware certification.

Meanwhile, cadet Terik Fullerton is expected to graduate from the Delaware Police Academy on Aug. 15, then begin several months of field training before patrolling alone.

“I would say we’re probably about a week or two away from where most days will be 24-hour coverage,” Lovins said just before the Independence Day holiday.

He’s also looking to build a roster of substitutes he could call in for vacancies, such as vacations or extended leave.

For the final vacancy, the chief told Coastal Point that he hopes to potentially send one of the current SBPD seasonal enforcement staff to the police academy in September.

But the town council has not yet discussed or voted on that proposal. They have recently preferred to hire Delaware-certified candidates who have already completed the necessary academy and field training.

In the meantime, South Bethany continues filling gaps by hiring outside help: four-hour shifts of police from Fenwick Island, Ocean View and the Delaware State Police.


By Laura Walter

Staff Reporter