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Meet the man who wants to become Baltimore County's next police chief

Dennis Delp is the interim police chief for Baltimore County.
John Lee
Dennis Delp is the interim police chief for Baltimore County.

Baltimore County’s interim police chief said he wants the job permanently. During his first news conference with reporters on Tuesday since taking over the department last week, Dennis Delp said policing is a noble profession and being chief would allow him to be “a part of something bigger than myself.” Delp is a 28 year veteran of the Baltimore County Police Department.

“We get asked to act on behalf of society,” he said. “That’s the social contract that we operate under. It is an honor and privilege that we are entrusted in that.”

County Executive Johnny Olszewski has launched a nationwide search for a new chief and has not set a deadline for when he will appoint one.

“We look forward to having a robust search,” Olszewski said. “We’ll be engaging all of the major organizations to ensure that we are getting the best of the best. We want to make sure that we have the right person to lead this agency in the years ahead.”

Olszewski will not say if he fired former Chief Melissa Hyatt.

“Leaders come and go for a variety of reasons,” Olszewski said.

Hyatt had been trying to weather a no-confidence vote from the fraternal order of police. Hyatt was a high profile hire for Olszewski during his first year in office in 2019. She was the first woman to lead the police force.

Delp said as interim chief, he is dealing with the lowest morale among officers he has seen in his career. He attributed that to what his officers are hearing from critics on social media. Delp said he tells his officers most people in the county quietly go about their lives and they support what the police are doing.

“But sometimes you have a group of people that complain about the police, and that’s the voice you hear,” Delp said.

He is also heading a department struggling to fill vacancies. The department has 215 vacancies out of nearly 1,961 positions, according to the Baltimore Police Department. The county is offering a $10,000 bonus to attract more people to the profession.

Delp said the shortage of police officers is “a national narrative.”

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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