The audience at Fenwick Island’s town council meeting last Friday stood and cheered when Mayor Audrey Serio announced that Sgt. William Boyden would replace former Police Chief Colette Sutherland as head of the Fenwick Island Police Department, after Sutherland announced last month that she would not ask the town to renew her contract.
Citizens had sent e-mails, made phone calls and even circulated a well-populated petition urging the council to appoint Boyden, the department’s public information officer, before town officials officially made the move last week. Boyden, a 28-year law enforcement officer, said he was humbled by the support.
“The fact that it was a unanimous vote and the support from the people of the town was overwhelming,” said Boyden, who still identified himself as “Sgt. Boyden” when reached by phone in Fenwick Island Town Hall on Tuesday. “It was very gratifying that they all stood up.”
Boyden will officially assume the position of chief on July 1 and town officials plan to swear him in to that spot at the next council meeting, on July 27.
“He’s already done a good job for the town and will continue on,” Serio said this week. “He was the obvious choice. We had also had a lot of input from the citizens who had sent us e-mails, letters and calls.”
Boyden left the Plymouth Police Department in Montgomery County, Pa., nearly five years ago, to take a position in Fenwick. He was one of several candidates to be considered to fill the spot as chief before Sutherland was hired. In Plymouth, where he worked for 23 years, Boyden was the department’s detective supervisor.
Boyden said Tuesday that he and his wife moved to the Delaware coast from the Philadelphia seeking a more serene atmosphere in which to raise their adopted son. They had a summer home outside of Fenwick and now live near Selbyville.
Boyden said he was surprised, as many were, when he heard that Sutherland would not be seeking contract renewal last month. Sutherland’s move was somewhat mysterious in that it was largely unexpected and sudden. Soon after receiving a letter from her stating her desire not to renew the contract, town officials sent Sutherland a letter asking the chief of nearly five years to leave office before she finished her contract, which will expire in July.
Serio said the move was a monetary one, with town officials worrying that her benefit package and salary costs would spill over into the 2008 fiscal year. Newly-appointed Town Manager Tony Carson also said there was no controversy surrounding Sutherland’s departure.
“I was totally caught off-guard,” Boyden said of Sutherland’s move. He has been handling the day-to-day operations of the department since she left. “It was my day off. I had no idea,” Boyden added. “I talked to her that day and that’s the last I’ve talked to her. I was caught off-guard, like everyone else was.”
Boyden was hired into the department by Sutherland’s predecessor, and as one of its senior members has served as the department’s liaison with the media and public during Sutherland’s tenure.