The South Bethany Police Department, down a man for nearly a year, has returned to its previous strength with the arrival of Ptlm. Josh Rowley.
Rowley, 25, and fresh out of the Delaware State Police Academy, should complete his field training with Sr. Cpl. Eric Watkins by next month, according to Watkins.
The veteran police officer explained the ride-along training, saying he’d been evaluating Rowley based on a 27-topic checklist — covering everything from investigative skills to his ability to keep up good relationships with the residents.
“He’s done very well,” Watkins stated.
Rowley came well prepared, to judge from his account of the training he received at the academy.
“It’s 22 weeks long, military oriented,” he said. “They pull a lot of things out of Marine training,” he said. According to Rowley, Delaware has one of the last few live-in academies in the nation (although recruits do get to go home on weekends).
“That takes it to another level, because there’s no contact with the outside world,” he said. “There’s no reading the paper in the morning, no cell phones, no making phone calls.
“Physical training — running, running, pushups, sit-ups and more running — for about eight weeks, that’s all you do,” Rowley continued.
Throw in eight to 12 hours in class, and you’ve had a full day. For the first 12 weeks, recruits get up at 4:45 a.m. and go to bed between 1 and 2 a.m. Instructors give the recruits a head-to-toe inspection every day — beds made, socks and underwear folded properly.
A Townsend native, Rowley said he’d originally intended to become a biologist.
After high school, he pursued an education in science at the University of Delaware.
Then, in his junior year, he picked up a criminal justice as an elective for a change of pace.
“I was doing research for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some stuff for U.S. Fish & Wildlife, in the lab eight hours a day,” he said.
“That class changed my life,” Rowley said. “It opened up a whole new area that I’d never even thought about.
He signed on as a seasonal officer in Dewey to make sure he was making the right decision.
“That summer was so refreshing — walking in each day not knowing what was going to happen,” Rowley said. “It was so different from the structure of spending all day in the lab.”
He worked in Dewey for three years.
After graduation, Rowley started looking for a department with a good reputation.
He said he didn’t know too many people in the area, but he asked around. Then Lt., now Dewey Police Chief, Sam Mackert, pointed him toward South Bethany.
The town decided to hire him on, and for the first time in 13 years, sent an officer through the academy.
He married his college sweetheart, Patty, on his first weekend home from training.
“I kind of hid that from my instructors at the academy — I didn’t want them to give me a hard time that first week,” Rowley admitted.
Quite the contrary in South Bethany, and he said Chief Joe Deloach had expressed an interest in his family.
“It’s a hard job, and if you have somebody in charge supportive of spending time with family ... that’s important to me,” he said.
The Rowleys moved to Millsboro last year, and have since bought a townhouse in Milton.