Wilmington Legislators Push City Officials on Crime

The following letter was sent to City of Wilmington officials on December 8, 2015.

Dear Mayor Williams and Council Members:

Last year, we were approached by hundreds of Wilmingtonians who believe we all have a responsibility to address violent crime throughout Delaware. Wilmington has its own Mayor, City Council, and Police Department, but this does not absolve state legislators of our duty to our shared constituents who reside in the city.

In response to this situation, we sponsored and the General Assembly passed legislation that established the Wilmington Public Safety Strategies Commission. With your support, the governor signed House Joint Resolution 2 and immediately put together a state-funded commission with representatives from the community, employers and members of law enforcement which included an appointment of your choosing, Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings.

On March 31st, the consultants presented their final report to the commission. The report provides a detailed blueprint for how the department should be structured in order to maximize its effectiveness. According to the report and the advice of nationally recognized law enforcement experts, in order for the Wilmington Police Department to realize the full impact of the commission’s report, these particular recommendations must be adopted.

1. Deployment: Adopt a metric based deployment strategy, utilizing minimum staffing levels of 24 officers per shift. Based on the Temple University Hot Spot Analysis, WPD needs to incorporate the Neighborhood Stabilization Unit: a six-to-seven person community-oriented unit that would respond to statistically generated crime conditions. This would resemble Operation Disrupt, but would be stable and targeted, without relying solely on overtime.

2. Homicide Clearance Rate: Continue working to improve the homicide clearance rate by

supporting a major crimes unit and ensuring it has sufficient staffing, policies and resources. The unit should participate in joint initiatives with the New Castle County Police Department and the Delaware State Police, and should investigate homicides and other violent gun crimes.

3. Develop a Proactive Crime Reduction Strategy: Adopt a comprehensive drug, gang, and high risk offender reduction 

strategy. This would include complete participation in Operation Safe Streets and HIDTA initiatives and continued development of an intelligence base to support the strategy. This intelligence base should include a career tract for detectives.

4.Technology: Improve the department’s use of technology to include data acquisition, GPS monitoring, and an upgrade of the current camera monitoring system.

5. Accountability: Adopt strict internal measures to ensure accountability of individual officers and management. The consultants

have recommended hiring a Deputy of Operations to satisfy this recommendation.

It has been a full eight months since these recommendations were made, and still large swaths of the report have not been adopted.

Last week, the Joint Finance Committee renewed its commitment to the City of Wilmington by providing additional resources to the city to combat violent crime. Those resources will be used to increase police patrols as recommended by the Attorney General’s Office. But they also came with conditions that the city must meet, including working with the consultants that prepared the Wilmington Public Safety Strategies Commission report.

We share the Joint Finance Committee’s concerns. We as the legislators who represent the City of Wilmington lobbied and led the 

charge to create and fund a commission report to help the city reduce violent crime. Those recommendations have sat on a shelf for the last eight months, while city officials have called for more funding from the state.

We have an obligation to do everything in our power to help the city we are privileged to represent, but we also must insist that the city use everything at its disposal to address this crisis. We believe that temporary actions such as this funding are important, but they do not provide a durable path forward, such as the one outlined in the Public Safety Strategies report. To continue to ignore this document, paid for with considerable public funds, would further imperil the safety of Delawareans, both in Wilmington and outside the city limits.

We urge you to endorse, adopt and fully implement the Wilmington Public Safety Strategies Commission’s recommendations – particularly the ones listed above. By working together to implement these recommendations, we can successfully address our public safety issues head-on.

We will continue to be Wilmington’s strongest advocates in Dover, and we stand ready to take positive steps to improve the city we all are proud to represent.

Yours in service,

Charles Potter Jr.                     Stephanie T. Bolden              Helene Keeley            
State Representative               State Representative               State Representative
District 1                                 District 2                                 District 3

Gerald L. Brady                      John L. Mitchell                      James Johnson
State Representative               State Representative               State Representative  
District 4                                 District 13                               District 16

Harris McDowell                    Margaret Rose Henry            
State Senator                           State Senator                          
District 1                                 District 2                                

 

AttachmentSize
Wilmington Delegation - Letter to Mayor Williams and Council.pdf193.04 KB