|Construction began on the Delaware Memorial Bridges, (DMB) in 1949 and it was officially opened for traffic in 1951. Our agency, the Delaware Memorial Bridge Police Department was established by the State of Delaware at the same time. The DMB is the world’s longest and largest twin span suspension bridge. The spans connect New Castle County, Delaware, and Salem County, New Jersey. The DMB and its access highways are designated as a portion of I-295, which begins just outside of Wilmington, Delaware, and travels into and traverses southern New Jersey.
In 1962, the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) was established through a congressionally approved Compact between the states of Delaware and New Jersey. The Compact authorizes the DRBA to maintain its own police force. DRBA Police officers have full powers of investigation, detention and arrest on the crossings, transportation, terminal facilities, other projects, and the approaches thereto, owned, operated, or controlled by the DRBA. Under certain circumstances this jurisdiction extends throughout both the States of Delaware and New Jersey.
As a result of the compact, the Delaware Memorial Bridge Police Department was transformed into the Delaware River and Bay Authority Police. Delaware River and Bay Authority Police staff the Delaware Memorial Bridge Police Troop, located at the Base of the Delaware Memorial Bridge in Delaware. The Delaware Memorial Bridge (DMB) Troop 1 is the largest and most active of the department’s three troops. Currently, more than 35 million vehicles cross the bridge annually and police officers assigned to this troop deal with the unique problems associated with accidents and motor vehicle violations on a large suspension bridge and interstate highway. Police officers at the DMB engage in a wide variety of law enforcement activities as well as providing a security presence. These officers are best described as “highway patrol” officers.
In 1964, the DRBA initiated a ferry service between Cape May, New Jersey, and Lewes, Delaware, a distance of 17 miles. The Cape May Lewes Ferry is the home of the nation’s most luxurious bi-state ferry service and makes approximately 5500 crossings each year. A full-time police presence was established at the ferry in April of 1984 when a second police troop was opened in Cape May, New Jersey. In January 1986, a third troop was opened in Lewes, Delaware. Protecting and serving an interstate ferry is like no other policing experience. Delaware River and Bay Authority Police Officers at the Cape May and Lewes troops actively patrol ferry vessels, terminals and access roads, with a multifaceted mission. First, officers actively patrol the vessels and terminals to deter and detect criminal activity. Secondly, officers look for possible security breaches. Lastly, but certainly not least, officers are highly visible representatives of the ferry operation. Their primary duties are traffic management and providing assistance to traveling patrons.
In May 1995, the Authority entered into a 30-year lease agreement with New Castle County (DE) to operate the New Castle Airport. This agreement empowered the DRBA to take over airport management and operations. The legal authority to operate airports was the result of an amendment to the Bi-State Compact by New Jersey and Delaware and approval by the U.S. Congress. Additional aviation venues followed and the Authority’s airport division now operates the New Castle, Cape May, Millville, Delaware Airpark, and Dover Civil Air Terminal Airports. The Authority also uses its resources to participate in economic development ventures throughout Delaware and in the four southernmost counties of New Jersey. This includes the historic Three Forts Ferry Crossings, located on the Delaware River, and connecting Fort DuPont, Fort Delaware, and Fort Mott. This is a tourist operation and service is only provided during the summer months. Two (2) business parks are also operated by the Authority as part of its economic development program.
In November 1996, the department reached a major milestone by receiving the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies’ (CALEA), international accreditation award. Our agency has successfully maintained accreditation by CALEA since that date.
Today, DRBA police officers patrol the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the New Castle County Airport, and handle all calls for service at the airport. Officers also patrol and investigate criminal activity at all locations owned and/or operated by the Authority. In Delaware this includes the New Castle Airport, the Corporate Complex located adjacent to the New Castle Airport, the Civil Air Terminal, the Delaware Airpark in Dover, Three Forts Park in Delaware City, and the Lewes Ferry Operations. In New Jersey this includes the airports in Millville and Cape May, as well as the Cape May Ferry operations and Carneys Point Business Center.