"I can't imagine doing anything else," said Capt. Dennis Delp, 41. "I feel privileged and fortunate to be part of such a noble profession. I was super-excited when I heard I was coming to Cockeysville. I landed in the best spot possible."
Delp took over as commander of the precinct on Jan. 22. He replaces David Moxley, who retired after spending a year in charge of the Cockeysville precinct, which covers 230 square miles from Timonium to the Pennsylvania line.
Delp was 18 when he joined the Baltimore City Police Department as a cadet in 1990 after graduating from Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School. He credits his older brother, David, a Baltimore City policeman, with his career choice. Delp said he often rode in his brother's police car and watched him testify in court, too.
"I knew all through high school what I wanted to do," he said. "It kept me focused and out of trouble."
Delp stayed with the Baltimore police until 1994 when he moved to the county police force. He currently lives in Bel Air with his two sons, 10 and 5, and wife, Tracey, an assistant state's attorney in Harford County.
Over the next 19 years, he was assigned to North Point, White Marsh and Wilkens precincts. He was promoted to captain in 2010 and worked at police headquarters' operations center in Towson, as well as at its personnel office.
He said those last two jobs gave him a behind-the-scenes look at the police department, which has proved invaluable now that he's in charge at Cockeysville.
Cockeysville has 114 officers and personnel. A dozen cars cover the area during each eight-hour shift.
Delp got to know the area immediately when a crime wave in the northern part of the precinct coincided with his arrival.
"I had to hit the ground running with the burglaries and car break-ins," he said. "We flooded the areas with patrol cars."
A group of Monkton residents invited Delp to a meeting to discuss setting up a Neighborhood Watch group in reaction to the criminal activity.
"I emailed Capt. Delp and in 10 minutes I got a reply saying he'd come to the meeting," said Sue Carbaugh, of Monkton. "I was so impressed with his willingness to participate, and he had so much information for us."
Delp also visited the Greater Timonium Community Council meeting in February at Cockeysville Library. About 50 community associations are council members.
"He was only 10 days into his command, but he came and addressed crime trends with us," said Eric Rockel, GTCC president. "We look forward to more interactions with him."
Delp also attended the Cockeysville Police Community Relations Council meeting in Hunt Valley.
"He's a very humble person but he knows what he needs to do to get the job done," said council president, Pam Rutledge. "The biggest thing is that he really cares for this community."
While Delp hopes to send out mass emails to residents during crime sprees, he wants people to get into the habit of checking a website that's updated weekly with reported crime — http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/police/pc07/index.html.
He also reminds people to lock cars and houses and to report any suspicious cars or people by calling 911.
"People don't want to call 911 because they think they'll take an officer off something more important, but calls are prioritized," he said. "I'd rather get 10 calls that prove to be nothing than have people decide not to call."
Delp also encourages people to email him on non-urgent items at email@example.com.
"Communication is the key to solving problems," he said. "Positivity is my thing. I treat people better than they deserve to be treated and I never forget this job is a privilege. I will never take it for granted."