The Frankford Town Council announced at its meeting this week that their vacant police chief position had been filled by Michael Warchol. Chief Warchol’s first day with the Town was April 27. He had previously been chief of police at the Ellendale Police Department.
“I’ve always preferred law enforcement in a small-town setting,” he said on Tuesday. “You’re able to be more personable with people. I like that. I like the fact that last night at the [town council] meeting, the guys were chatting with me and seemed to be excited that the police department opened up.”
After serving in the U.S. Navy, Warchol started his career in law enforcement in 1987, as a prison guard for the Florida Department of Corrections. In 1989, he went to the police academy to become a Florida police officer, and started with the Leesburg (Fla.) Police Department. After three years in that department, he moved on to the Lake County (Fla.) Sherriff’s Office. During his nine years there, he went from road patrol duty to being a detective in 11 months.
“Everything from misdemeanor crimes up,” he said. “When I left, I was a major-crimes investigator assigned to sex crimes, basically.”
Warchol then went to work for the Walt Disney World Corporation in Orlando, Fla.
“I was an investigator for them at the parks there in Orlando. I investigated everything for them that I investigated for the sheriff — I just didn’t have arrest powers,” he said. “They had a very busy security department, and the investigations end was very busy.”
But Warchol said he missed being in traditional law enforcement, so he took a job with the Mount Dora (Fla.) Police Department. There, he met his wife, Elizabeth.
He later went on to work more than eight years at the Mascotte (Fla.) Police Department, which he left as deputy chief.
“My wife went to work for the Department of Homeland Security. She’s a Homeland Security investigator based out of Ocean City, Md.,” he explained of their arrival in Delmarva.
Following the Warchols’ move to Delaware in 2009, he worked for the Georgetown SPCA and did a brief stint at the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office. For the last three years, he served as chief of the Ellendale Police Department.
Warchol said his favorite part of law enforcement is being actively involved in a community.
“I like the contact with people. I’ve always enjoyed meeting with people and chatting — basically, getting to know them, help them as best I can.”
Coming into a new town, Warchol said, his biggest hurdle will be getting to know the people he’s serving.
“I’m a very community-oriented chief. I like the people in town to know me. I like them to know how to get in touch with me if they have a problem — not just a law-enforcement problem, but anything I can help them with — because I feel if they trust me enough to help them with things that aren’t law-enforcement, then they’re going to trust me with their law-enforcement issues, as well.”
Warchol was hired after former Police Chief William Dudley retired in December, and its remaining officer, Nate Hudson, went to another area department.
“Frankford kind of shut their police department down — they were without one for a couple of months. Anytime you come into a town that has been without law enforcement, even just for a couple of months, there are going to be challenges getting the agency back up and running,” he said.
“There are some issues around in the area, just like anywhere in Sussex County. There are drug issues and things like that that need to be addressed.”
Warchol said his personal goal for the department right now is to fill the vacant position previously held by Hudson.
“I’d like to find a good candidate for that and get them hired,” he said. “It’s a challenge with a two-man department — you only have 80 hours of a full week to schedule people and have them available. I’m hoping I can figure out a way to make us most available for when we’re needed.”
Warchol has already begun his outreach to the town’s residents. His business cards are currently being printed with his personal cell phone on them, which can also be acquired by calling town hall or the police department.
“I want anyone in town who has a need to speak with us.”
Although he has yet to complete his first two weeks of work within the town, Warchol said he’s already actively getting to know Frankford residents.
“I’ve already started. Whenever I see people in town, I stop and visit with them. The few calls for service that we’ve had since I’ve been here, I’ve gotten to meet some of the people,” he said. “Even the other day, off duty, there was a lady having a problem with one of her children, and I stopped in my personal car and introduced myself and helped her out with her situation.”
Warchol said he hopes to hold a Coffee with a Cop event in town, and he hopes to be a chief that the community can reach out to, no matter what.
“Just to make myself available for anyone who wants to come and meet me. Of course, the people in town know that, if they see the car at the [police department], to stop in.”