Townsend mayor participating in the program

Townsend Mayor Rudy Sutton was sworn in as the 2017 Honorary Troop Commander for the Delaware State Police Troop 9 in Odessa on the night of Jan. 24.

The goal of the Honorary Troop Commander program is to pair commanders of the Delaware State Police with key community, business and political leaders in their respective troop areas to improve relations between the police and the community.

The initiative started in 2016 as the idea of Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr.

“It was his vision to initiate a Delaware State Police Community Outreach Unit to enhance law enforcement services and further engage the communities we serve,” said Delaware State Police Public Information Officer Richard Bratz. “As part of this vision he initiated the Honorary Commander Program within the Delaware State Police, while working with troop commanders throughout the state, DSP Community Outreach Unit members and community leaders.”

Mayor Sutton wasn’t aware that his name had been discussed for this honor, until after he had been voted in, at which point he was called by Capt. Daniel Hall, who asked if Sutton would accept the nomination.

“He notified me that I had been nominated, explained to me what being an Honorary Troop Commander entailed, then asked if I would accept the nomination,” Sutton said. “I was more than happy to because I’ve always been a big supporter of service, and have always been a fan of the State Police.”

Sutton explained that as an Honorary Troop Commander he would be invited to ceremonies held by the State Police, and invited to ride along with troopers on patrol. The purpose of this would be to show him how the police function from day to day, giving him a new perspective to share with the community.

“I recently attended a graduation ceremony, where 52 men and women graduated,” Sutton said. “We haven’t put together a schedule for any ride-alongs yet, but that will be coming soon.”

In addition to the State Police inviting him to their functions, Sutton, as an Honorary Troop Commander, will be looking to return the favor by giving the State Police a platform to improve their relations with the community.

“The group I’m most concerned about is the youths,” Sutton said. “That is one of the main areas where there is a true act of understanding. It is important that they understand the bad policing that they see out on T.V. and social media is just a minority. There a many more out there that are great cops that are following the correct ethics.”

The ultimate setting for this endeavor, according to Sutton, would be to actually bring the police into the schools for an assembly. However, with it being so early after the induction process, no plans have been made.