Wilmington’s first ever female police chief is stepping down. Wilmington Police Chief Christine Dunning is retiring after accepting a new position as an Executive Assistant II with New Castle County.
Dunning’s last day as chief will be on Friday.
“As the City’s first ever female Chief of Police, Christine Dunning, served the City and citizens of Wilmington with distinction and honor,” said Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams. “She tirelessly worked to combat crime and keep our neighborhoods safe. I worked closely with Chief Dunning throughout her career, and can attest to her passion for and dedication to the community. I thank her for her 27 years of service and commitment to the City of Wilmington. I appreciate her time with the Williams Administration, and welcome her to the ranks of distinguished retired officers.”
Dunning was chosen by Williams as the new chief in December of 2012 after former chief Michael Szczerba retired. Dunning also served as the commanding officer for Human Resources for the department, prior to becoming chief.
During her tenure, Dunning helped implement the new Situational Policing Strategy which focuses on Wilmington Police and communities working together to build stronger neighborhoods. Dunning also executed the city’s downtown deployment, increasing the number of officers and the safety of the city’s business district.
“It’s been an honor to serve the City of Wilmington as an officer with the Wilmington Police Department for the past 27 years,” Dunning said. “I would like to thank Mayor Williams for the tremendous opportunity and privilege to serve as the first female Chief of Police in the history of the Wilmington Police Department. I look forward to moving on to a new chapter in my life, and I am excited about the new challenges and opportunities that await.”
Last year, Wilmington broke its record for annual shootings, prompting Mayor Williams to threaten to make major leadership changes in the police department if the problem continued.
“We need to make some adjustments and things have to change,” Williams said last December during an appearance on WDEL, a Delaware radio station. “If things don’t change I will be looking for new leadership. You can put me on record as saying that.”
Neither Dunning nor Williams stated whether the statement on the radio show impacted her retirement.
Inspector Bobby Cummings will serve as the interim Wilmington Police Chief. Inspector Victor Ayala will stay in his current position as the inspector of investigative operations. The Department plans on conducting a national search with help from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) along with the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) for a new police chief. The Williams administration will also call a committee of law enforcement professionals to oversee the hiring process.