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Dollinger sworn in as Hope Mills police chief

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HOPE MILLS - Hope Mills officially has a new chief of police.

Stephen F. Dollinger was sworn in Monday night during the town Board of Commissioners meeting. 

Dollinger replaces former Chief Joel Acciardo, who retired Nov. 1.

“Actually, we're going to say a ceremonial swearing in because we have been very fortunate to have our police chief on board before Christmas,” said Mayor Jackie Warner.

“The reason for that is to get this New Year off right,” Warner said. 

Dollinger most recently served as police chief for the Robeson County town of St. Pauls. He had worked there since December 2019. Some officers from his former department attended the service and stood by his side for support. 

Dollinger, with his family and his wife, Stephanie, by his side, raised his right hand and was sworn in by Warner.

“I want to thank the town manager and mayor and the rest of the Board of Commissioners for having the confidence in me and appointing me chief,” Dollinger said.

"I’m looking forward to working tirelessly to make the Hope Mills Police Department one of the best around,” he said.

 Dollinger takes over a Police Department that is short-staffed and looking to strengthen its force. Hope Mills is looking for more officers and that will be the first order of business, he said.

 “We have some vacancies right now we’ll be looking to fill quickly and to get up to the manpower that’s allowed,” Dollinger said. “Then I’ll conduct a manpower study with the growth projections of the town to make sure the department grows to remain effective with the growth of the town.”

 The Hope Mills Police Department has 42 sworn officers and six civilian employees when fully staffed. It currently has 30 sworn officers, four personnel awaiting state certification and five civilian employees, said Lt. Lee Summers, the department’s operations support commander.  

Dollinger said he is looking forward to working with the team that’s already in place and building upon the foundation laid by Acciardo. 

“I’m looking to bring my experience to the table, lend support to the officers, and make this department the best it can be,” he said. 

Warner said she is excited about the fresh perspective that Dollinger brings.

“He brings experience. He's been a police chief in a larger town. He comes with new eyes because he’s not from Hope Mills and wants to be a part of  Hope Mills,” Warner said. “Anytime you bring someone else in, they take a new look and find something we see everyday and haven’t been paying attention to.”

Warner had praise for the way Dollinger carries himself. 

“I’m very pleased with his demeanor, and the fact he’s very professional,” Warner said. “He brings a fresh set of eyes and wants to be here, and that’s important.”  

Dollinger is from Middletown, New Jersey, and has served in law enforcement since 1985.  

During his thirty-plus years in law enforcement, Dollinger has held a variety of positions including patrol officer, canine officer and detective. He served as deputy chief of police for the  Middletown Township Police Department until his retirement in 2019.

Dollinger has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey, and a master’s degree in administrative science from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.  

Jason Canady covers Hope Mills for CityViewTODAY. He can be reached at jcanady@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Hope Mills, Board of Commissioners, police, Stephen Dollinger

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