Those who have been travelling through Ocean View in the last few weeks may have noticed a new officer on patrol.
Patrolman AnnMarie Dalton, who graduated from the Delaware State Police Academy in February, began her field training with the Ocean View Police Department three weeks ago. She was hired by the department in May, prior to going to the academy.
“I looked at local departments, and you hear word-of-mouth what are good departments to go to. I had heard Ocean View was very well-trained. It’s what you need in this job — you need to be well-trained. And Chief [Ken] McLaughlin gives a lot of training opportunities.
“I also heard he was such a wonderful guy and really into community policing, which is something that I strongly believe in. I felt like it was a perfect fit for me.”
Dalton moved to southern Delaware in the spring of 2014, after graduating from Holy Family University in Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
“My roommate my senior year has lived in Sussex County her whole life. After we graduated, she said, ‘You should come live at the beach for the summer,” said Dalton. “I was already in the process with the Delaware State Police, so I came down and lifeguarded for the summer, and loved the area. So I started putting applications in and ended up staying. I liked it too much!”
While she was applying to various law-enforcement agencies, Dalton served as a seasonal officer for the Bethany Beach Police Department last summer and worked as a paraprofessional at Lord Baltimore Elementary School.
Dalton is the first person in her family to work in law enforcement, a profession she’s been interested in since a young age.
“I guess it’s something I’ve always wanted since I was younger. My grandfather and I used to watch ‘America’s Most Wanted.’ I always felt that drive, like, ‘Oh — I want to do that. I want to find those guys or girls,’” she said. “It was one of those things that I felt was a very noble profession. Not that any other profession is not.”
While in college, she interned at the Lower Southampton Police Department in Philadelphia, which solidified her choice for a career in law enforcement.
“I got to do some ride-alongs and see the daily routine of what a cop does every day, and it showed this is definitely what I want to do. I just like the feeling, being in that seat and watching the daily routine. It just felt right. It’s like when you’re looking for a school to go to. You walk on campus and say, ‘This is it.’ That was sort of the same feeling I got.”
This past May, Dalton was hired by the Ocean View Police Department and sent to the State Police Academy for its 22-week live-in intensive training program.
“It was a learning experience. It was very hard to adapt to that kind of life there. I went away to college, but it was like a whole new feeling. You didn’t have a cellphone; you didn’t have any contact with the outside world, except on weekends. So, you had to rely on all the people who were there, which in turn was awesome. I made some amazing, amazing friends,” she recalled.
“The live-in, being away from your friends and family for so long — it was hard to adjust to. But it was also really good. I learned a lot. The training was awesome… the food was terrible. It was definitely an experience.”
Unlike some other states, Dalton said it was great to be able to be hired by a municipal agency and be sent to the State’s training academy.
“I liked that I was training with State Police,” she said. “Delaware has one of the hardest academies in the United States.”
Dalton was one of 13 females in the Academy’s 81st Municipal Recruit Class; however, only eight graduated.
“We started with 13 females. That’s a lot,” she said. “That experience itself opened my eyes a little bit. All we lost were females. Was it harder on us? No. We were, all across the board, treated the same. If a TAC officer was in a guy’s face next to me, we were next, you know? It was no different. I was with eight other girls, so our room was filled.”
As a female in law enforcement — a job known to potentially be physically taxing and dangerous — Dalton said the academy was good about addressing concerns.
“Because females are smaller — command presence, they harped on that. If you have good command presence, you have command of the situation, which I think is the case with anybody. But being a female and being smaller, they’ll size you up,” she said. “Having command presence and looking professional at all times, they said, being a female or a smaller guy, is a good way to show authority and that you’re there to get the job done.”
This May, Dalton will be out in field training and able to patrol Ocean View by herself. She said she’s excited to be working with the OVPD.
“I feel as though I’ve definitely picked the right department. I’ve been constantly supported since the moment I started, which can sometimes be hard to come by. Every week it’s, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ ‘Do you need anything?’ Daily check-ins. So, I definitely feel supported and like I landed at the right place.”
While new to the job, Dalton said that, so far, she’s really enjoying her time in law enforcement and is looking forward to a long career.
“I absolutely love it. I’ve been getting that question a lot, and I keep saying, ‘I love waking up and going to work.’ You never know what’s going to happen. You can make it routine, but every day is different,” she said.
“Right now, my goal would be just to work hard,” she said. “I just want to work hard and do what I have to do. Eventually, I would like to go into some type of little drug unit. That’s something I feel strongly about. But, as of right now — stay focused, do what I have to do, work hard and get the job done.”