Middletown Town Council voted unanimously Monday to promote Capt. Daniel Yeager to head the Middletown Police Department after current Chief Henry Tobin III retires on May 23.

Capt. Daniel Yeager was the second officer hired when the Middletown Police Department was relaunched in 2007.

Now, the 58-year-old Newark resident will serve as the department’s second police chief.

Middletown Town Council voted unanimously Monday to promote Yeager to head the 27-officer municipal police department after current Chief Henry Tobin III retires on May 23.

“I’m very happy,” Yeager said, minutes after Middletown Mayor Kenneth Branner announced the promotion. “After it settles in, I’m going to meet with the mayor and council, staff and the officers to format … a strategic plan for moving the department forward.”

A native of New Jersey, the father of three who married his high school sweetheart began his law enforcement career as a civilian employee with the New Castle Police Department in 1976 before attending the police academy in 1982.

He went on to command the county police department’s drug unit in the early 1990s before retiring as the commander of internal affairs.

“I first came down here as a sergeant following my drug assignment and really loved the area and loved the people,” he said Monday. “So when [Chief Tobin] gave me the opportunity to come back down and start the department with him, it was I no brainer. I couldn’t refuse.”

Yeager’s promotion comes less than six weeks after Tobin officially announced his plans to retire.

Tobin, who hired Yeager one month after becoming the first Middletown police chief in 30 years, said his former second in command has been an integral part of developing the department from the ground up.

“He’s been actively involved in every aspect of the police department since then,” he said. “I think [town council] made a phenomenal choice. He’ll do a great job.”

Branner said Yeager’s promotion was recommended by a panel – made up of three council members and Town Manager Morris Deputy – following interviews with all three Middletown police officers who applied for the position.

“We didn’t advertise [the position to] outside [applicants] and the reason we did not was we felt … we had qualified people in the department and I’m a firm believer of [promoting] from within,” he said.

Branner said he expects Yeager to hold the police chief position for at least the next three years.

“When we started the department in 2007, he and [Tobin] said unless things change, they would give us 10 years,” he said. “Our game plan now is we’re on a three-year plan to fill the position. And [Yeager]’s going to have a lot of input with that, along with our staff officers.”

In the meantime, it remains unclear when the town will hire Yeager’s replacement.

“We brought the captain up and now we’ll look at the [progression] and do we want to fill captain, lieutenant and all the way down,” Branner said. “We’ll sit down with [Yeager], the [police] union and the officers to decide what’s the best way to do this.”