Aggressive policing in Delaware

It’s been a little more than a week since Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams and his police chief unveiled the city’s new public safety plan, and in that time, there have been several drug and gun arrests.

Most recently, Wilmington Police arrested probationer Corey Lewis on gun charges. The department’s gun squad was conducting a firearm investigation Friday afternoon in the 500 block of Townsend Street when they found a 9mm semiautomatic handgun on Lewis.

A convicted drug felon, Lewis is prohibited from possessing a firearm; he’s in jail on $20,000 cash bond. 

Busy Thursday

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Meanwhile, the gun squad seized more than 5,000 bags of heroin and crack cocaine Thursday night. 

Wilmington Police arrested Rashaan Cherry during a firearm investigation in the unit block of Baynard Boulevard. Officers stopped the 31-year-old in his car, executed a search warrant and discovered 5,334 bags of heroin, 367 grams of crack cocaine and $900. Police say the heroin is valued at $30,000.

A convicted drug felon, Cherry is in custody in lieu of a $50,000 cash bond. 

More than $38,000 worth of pot was seized in a drug raid earlier in the day. According to Wilmington Police, the department’s Drug Organized Crime Vice Unit stopped Felix Garcia and a 17-year-old in the 1500 block of Lancaster Avenue, Thursday afternoon, in connection to a drug investigation. A search of the suspects and of Garcia’s home in the 1800 block of West 3rd Street turned up a total of $1,961 and 7,734 grams of marijuana valued at $38,670.

The teenager is in New Castle County’s detention center; Garcia is behind bars on $20,000 cash bail.

Four hours earlier, WPD arrested a man in possession of drugs. Officers on “proactive patrol” in the 500 block of N. Monroe Street said Walter Starkey, after trying to lose the officers, threw drug paraphernalia into a yard in the 400 block. Once they had Starkey in custody, police found 26 bags of heroin and crack cocaine.

Starkey is currently behind bars on $23,501.00 secured bond.

Wilmington Police officers arrested Eric Lloyd while on routine patrol in the 600 block of Maryland Avenue, Thursday morning. The 20-year-old walked in front of the patrol car when officers say they saw the outline of a gun through Lloyd’s jacket. Turns out Lloyd, a convicted felon, was carrying a .32 caliber revolver. 

Lloyd’s behind bars on $29,000 secured bond. 

Two on Tuesday

Meanwhile, a neighborhood policing unit on “proactive uniformed patrol” in the vicinity of East 10th and N. Spruce Streets arrested a 16-year-old they say was a street level drug dealer in the city’s east side. The Wilmington teen was charged with possession with intent to deliver (heroin), possession of marijuana and loitering for drug related activity.

The teen is in custody on $22,000 cash bail.

WPD also dismantled a street level drug sale operation, with the community’s help. According to police, a tip sent officers to the 100 block of N. Rodney Street, where they witnessed Bonificiao Vaughn and Kahiam Redden selling drugs to Brian Stewart.

All three men were arrested; police found 149 grams of marijuana packaged for sale.

More ‘boots on the ground’

The “proactive patrols” fall in line with the mayor’s plan, which not only increased the number of uniformed officers on patrol, but also stated those officers “will aggressively enforce laws which affect the peace and general welfare of Wilmington citizens.”

Polilce chief Christine Dunning says WPD will reduce the number of officers in specialized units, like K9, detectives and vice squad, to boost the numbers in patrol. 

The so-called ‘jump out squads,’ which gained notoriety under former Mayor James Baker’s leadership isn’t labeled as such in Mayor Williams’ crime plan, but it does establish a ‘mobile strike force,’ comprised of experienced officers.

Strengthening relationships with residents and tailoring policing strategies to the needs of each neighborhood is another component of Wilmington’s new crime plan. The mayor and Dunning say the goal of the community policing component is to reignite a sense of ownership among neighborhood residents and to foster a trusting relationship with law enforcement. 

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