Middletown Police Chief Henry Tobin III will head off into the sunset next month, after nearly seven years at the helm of the town's reconstituted police department.

Middletown Police Chief Henry Tobin III will head off into the sunset next month, after nearly seven years at the helm of the town’s reconstituted police department.

“When I came in, I had a set of achievements I wanted to meet and I’ve managed to slowly chip away at that list,” Tobin said this week. “The last thing I wanted to accomplish was to get our department accredited and I’m confident we will achieve that next month. So I decided to move forward with my exit and some things fell into place quicker than I expected.”

Tobin said he informed Middletown Mayor Kenneth Branner of his intentions to step down March 20. Tobin’s last day will be May 23.

“I’ve known Hank for 20 years and he’s done everything we’ve ever asked of him” Branner said Monday. “He believes this is the right time to retire and I’m happy for him.”

However, Branner said it’s still too early to say how the town will go about finding Tobin’s successor.

“He only announced his retirement a few days ago and I haven’t formally talked to [town] council about how we’re going to go about it yet,” he said. “I also want to talk to the officers and the support staff in the police department, as well as Hank, before we decide which way we want to go.”

Branner said it is a “possibility” that the town could hire a new chief before Tobin begins his retirement, but added “that’s not a given.”

“There are several ways we can go,” he said. “There is nothing in the charter or our ordinances that sets out the hiring process [for a police chief] or says it has to be part of the usual personnel policy.”

A graduate of Salesianum and the University of Delaware before earning a master’s degree from Wilmington University, Tobin began his law enforcement career with the New Castle County Police Department in 1979.

During his time with the county, he served three stints with the NCCPD’s Middletown-based southern patrol, including two as its commander. It was that unit that replaced the former Middletown Police Department from 1973 until 2007.

Tobin officially retired from NCCPD on July 17, 2007, and was sworn in as Middletown’s first police chief the following day.

“Less than four months later, we were up and running as a full-service police department with 20 officers, a detective, a K-9 and an administrative assistant,” he said. “Since then, we’ve grown to 29 officers, added a police station, two more detectives, a second K-9 and developed into a professional police department that is held in high esteem among other police agencies in Delaware.”

But, the 59-year-old said he began thinking more and more about his own departure after his wife retired.

The couple recently finished building a home in Sussex County, where the chief has been spending his weekends, while staying with a relative in Middletown during the week.

“After 36 years in law enforcement, it begins to take its toll on you,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and it will be very difficult to walk away, but you have to know when to say when, and right now, I’m looking forward to doing a whole lot of nothing for a while. I think I’ve earned that.”