Col. Nathaniel McQueen '01 makes history in top State Police post

Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr. of the Delaware State Police says the Master of Social Work degree he earned at Delaware State University has helped him deal with countless people issues he is confronted with in law enforcement on a daily basis.

His social work knowledge along with the rest of his broad-based law enforcement experience has helped elevate McQueen to a pinnacle of law enforcement — in January he was named by Gov. Jack Markell as the superintendent of the Delaware State Police.

Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr. of the Delaware State Police graduated from DSU in 2001 with a Master of Social Work degree.

In ascending to that top post, McQueen is the first African-American to serve as DSP superintendent.

McQueen — who earned a MSW from DSU in 2001 after earning a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science from Wilmington College in 1996 — is in his 25th year as a state trooper. He said his opportunity to become the highest ranking state trooper was made possible by his predecessor, Col. Robert Coupe.

Coupe — who was appointed DSP superintendent in 2009 — brought him on to be a part of his executive staff.

“I didn’t really see myself as possibly becoming superintendent until I came on executive staff and got to know the inner workings of the department from that level,” McQueen said.

“Col. Coupe saw the executive staff as the future of the DSP, so he had a succession plan in which he worked to develop us.”

Coupe’s management style of grooming the DSP’s future leaders was something that resonated with McQueen.

“One of the highlights of my career was when I was at the rank of sergeant, because it was the first time I got to manage people and help them develop,” the superintendent said. He added that the “succession plan” will continue under his leadership as head of the DSP.

Although born in South Carolina, as a baby he moved with his parents Nathaniel and Carolyn McQueen Sr. to Wilmington, Del., where he grew up. He graduated from Hogdson Vo-Tech High School in Newark, where he studied commercial art.

After he joined the State Police in 1988, the commercial art background came in handy, as he served for a time as a sketch artist, one of his career highlights.

“I worked one-on-one with victims and helped them take part in solving their case,” McQueen said. “I did crime scene reconstructions, facial and composite drawings.”

In working his way up to superintendent, McQueen previously served in an ascending progression of posts, including patrol and detective sergeant, a member of the DSP Critical Incident Stress Management Team, the officer-in-charge of the Honor Guard Unit, a patrol lieutenant at Troop 3 Camden and a deputy troop commander at Troop 2 Bear responsible for the Major Crimes Unit, Domestic Violence Unit, Polygraph Examiner and Youth Aid Unit.

In 1991, he received the DSP Police Valor Award.

“I assisted the operator of a vehicle that had been struck by a train,” McQueen said. “As a second train was approaching, I assisted the operator by removing her from the area of the track.”

After serving as commander at several troop locations, he began his stint on the executive staff as the operations major managing all troops statewide.

McQueen said his time at DSU was beneficial to his career progression.

“I am part of so many boards and committees that run the gamut of kids, social services, sexual crimes and many other areas, and my social work master’s degree background helps me negotiate through those boards and work with other state agencies,” he said.

Most notably, McQueen recalled Dr. John Austin, the then-chair of the DSU Department of Sociology (currently the director of DSU Sponsored Programs), as being very helpful to him in his studies, as well as Dr. Marlene Saunders, current assistant professor of social work, and two deceased instructors, Dr. George Johnson and Dr. Larcy McCarley.

-- Story and photo by Carlos Holmes