Fenwick Terminates Police Chief’s Employment Contract

Fenwick Terminates Police Chief’s Employment Contract
Fenwick Police Chief John Devlin is pictured at his swearing-in ceremony in September of 2020. Photo by Bethany Hooper

FENWICK ISLAND – Officials in Fenwick Island are seeking candidates to fill the position of police chief after notifying the department’s current leader they are not renewing his employment agreement.

Effective Aug. 31, the Town of Fenwick Island will terminate its employment contract with Police Chief John Devlin. After two-plus decades of service to the town, Devlin said he was surprised to receive the notice.

“I’m just shocked and appalled,” he said. “I think town residents should know why … It’s bad timing on the town’s part, going into the summer. I have served with honor and integrity. I just don’t know what’s going on.”

In a hand-delivered letter issued May 1, the town notified Devlin it would not renew his employment contract, which was extended in August 2021. To that end, Devlin’s employment with the town will terminate on Aug. 31.

“Per the terms of an employment agreement between Chief Devlin and the Town of Fenwick Island, the Chief has been notified his employment agreement will not be extended or renewed when it expires on August 31, 2023,” Mayor Natalie Magdeburger said in a statement this week. “The Town expects that Chief Devlin will finish out his term in accordance with his employment agreement.  The Town Council of Fenwick Island is commencing a search for a Police Chief and the position will be advertised in the near future.”

In an interview this week, Devlin said he had returned from a training conference in late April and attended a town council meeting on April 28. He said no one had mentioned anything to him then. Three days later, he said, he received the official notice.

“At this time I’ve heard nothing from town officials as to what the reason is,” he said. “I’ve heard they have interviewed each individual officer, but I don’t know what that’s about. They say they love me, but they aren’t continuing with me.”

Devlin added that he will continue to serve the remainder of his term.

“But I have plenty of vacation time,” he said, “so I’m figuring out what I should do moving forward.”

In 1997, after attaining his Delaware Council on Police Training certification, Devlin began working for the Fenwick Island Police Department as a full-time officer. While he left the department in 2000, he returned three years later at the request of the late Councilman Edward “Buzz” Henifin.

During his second stint with the agency, Devlin rose through the ranks, attending numerous training schools and receiving several certifications during that time. And in 2020, following the resignation of former police chief William Boyden, he was sworn in as the department’s new leader.

Devlin celebrated his 20th anniversary with the town last month.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.