By Tony Windsor

An area police officer has now been sworn in as the chief of police for what is his third Delaware municipality. During the recent Laurel Mayor and Council meeting, held on Monday, June 17, former Seaford and Middletown police chief and Laurel Captain Robert Kracyla, took the Oath of Office to become chief of police for the town of Laurel.

Kracyla has served with the Laurel Police Department for the past three years, coming on board after he left the Middletown Police Department in December 2020. At that time, an old friend, former Laurel Chief Dan Wright, saw an opportunity to bring the retiring chief to Laurel. Wright was confident in his desire to bring Kracyla on the force, having worked with him in previous years.

New Laurel Police Chief Rob Kracyla, right, shakes hands with Laurel Mayor John Shwed during Monday’s Town Council meeting. Submitted photo

 According to Wright, “We were both members of the Delaware State Police Special Operations Team and worked numerous investigations together. When I was told that he had resigned from Middletown I immediately reached out to ask if he would be interested in helping me in the town of Laurel.”

In addition to his role as Middletown Police Chief, Kracyla also spent a year as Police Chief for the city of Seaford, beginning in 2018. 

Kracyla said that he enjoys being challenged as a police officer and recognizes the job has changed over the more than 40 years since he first started his career. “Training, culture, expectations, transparency, accountability, diversity, public perception, just to name a few of the things that have changed over the years,” he said. “We as officers need to foster an environment that brings positive change to the people we serve. I want to continue to be a positive influence in the community and with the police officers that I work with. I want to be a leader and role model who operates under a core value system that serves the Laurel community with professionalism, empathy, compassion, integrity, accountability, courage, and commitment to community.”

While in Seaford Kracyla launched community policing efforts that focused on youth and the community. Gaining the support of the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club, Kracyla organized a “Youth Police Academy,” and a “Citizens Police Academy,” which allowed participants to learn first-hand the role the police department plays in the community and also expose them to a possible career option. He brought the concept to Laurel and has had a very active program over the past two years.

Kracyla said his service in Laurel is representative of what he likes most about being a community police officer. “Laurel is a very special town with very special people,” he said. “It is a community that faces challenges head-on and is committed to being the best they can be. This is a trait that runs consistent with all of western Sussex County and is the definition of community to me.”

Another thing that was attractive to Kracyla when Chief Wright approached him about a job with the Laurel Police Department was Wright’s commitment to a community policing philosophy. 

“Community policing is a way of bridging the divide between police and the public through transparency and openness. The public has an expectation of transparency and through transparency we can build trust and relationships within the community. We are committed to creating and maintaining active community partnerships, identifying, and solving problems and improving the quality of life in Laurel,” he said.

Kracyla’s background in law enforcement is extensive. With more than 42 years of experience, his resume is impressive. Before becoming police chief in Seaford, Kracyla served as the Deputy Director of the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement for six years.

He retired from the Delaware State Police after 27 years of service. During his time with the Delaware State Police, Kracyla had several special assignments. He served as an instructor for TASER, ASP/Defensive Tactics, Firearms and SWAT Tactics. He was also an instructor at the Delaware State Police Academy training new troopers and other police officers. In 1989, Kracyla became a member of the Delaware State Police’s Tactical Team (SORT), where he stayed for 23 years, and served as team leader during that time. He was also a member of the FBI Task Force for eight years.

 Kracyla was the supervisor of former Governor Jack Markell’s Executive Protection Detail from 2008 until accepting his position with the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement. Prior to being employed by the Delaware State Police, he was a patrolman for Dover Police Department. Kracyla has received numerous awards and accolades during his career, including DSP SWAT Service Award, Governor of the State of Delaware Excellence Award, Department of Treasury Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Award, and two FBI honors.