Does Wilmington, Del. need the Guardian Angels crime fighters?

     (Shirley Minn/WHYY)

    (Shirley Minn/WHYY)

    Every one asking the question. The Angels are here but where is the new “Disrupt” unit in the Wilmington Police Department?

    Here is John Watson’s commentary: 

    Officers in the original “Operation Disrupt” unit claimed to have kept criminal hot spots cooling down when they were around. Then, due to a staff shortage, the number of officers had to be reduced. Now the “new” Disrupt unit has staffed up with the officers needed to do the job for a longer period of time.

    At the same time, the Guardian Angels, who have years of experience fighting crimes in New York and other large cities, will lend the Wilmington Police Department a hand.

    Add the Angels to the Disrupt officers and we should see a city that no longer can be called “Murder Town USA”. For some reason I keep feeling that now with the new Disrupt units, we can do it alone, but then again, the Guardian Angels have been around for a long time, becoming well known and well liked.

    Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels said the Angels can provide manpower, when the police officers are not available. We are told that one Sunday afternoon, Sgt. Walter Ferris, patrolling in west center city spoke with Sliwa, saying “I remember these guys from their time in New York”. When asked if he thought the Angels should be here or not, he said “if they are not contributing to crime and not hindering us, why not”.

    Volunteer members for a Wilmington Guardian Angel Chapter Curtis are being recruited by Sliwa himself. Would you like to join and learn how to help fight the criminal element where you live, with this new group?

    Sliwa claims that the Wilmington volunteers will be trained in first-aid and how to make citizen arrests, if they see crimes being be committed. Much of that is already being done by the Wilmington Police Department, so then I wonder, “Why do we need the Guardian Angels or anyone else?”

    Marcos Velez, known as “The Punisher”, is reported to be the Angels’ leader in Wilmington, where he was born and raised. He left and worked with the Angels for more than a decade before he came home to Delaware three years ago.

    Velez is quoted as saying “I came back in 2012 and realized the crime was so high because there are so many gang members and …really bad activity. These kids are being used by top drug dealers. I thought why not start something here.”

    It will be a long hard fight for him. I’ll say a prayer.

    This year so far there have been 78 gun shots killing 18 people. And last year there were 114 shootings killing 23 people.

    One thing is for sure, the people involved should help the police keep them safe.

    But for some reason people in those hot spots; complaining about the dangers they live in, day and night, bullets coming through their homes, people being wounded, killed….lots of collateral damage, refuse to tell the police what they see and hear. Instead they blame the police for not stopping it, making it safe for them.

    I think Sliwa made one crucial point. He said, “If local people get involved it would help prevent most violent crimes from taking place”.

    It’s reported that many residents are saying the problem with the young men involved in the drug shootings, and other violence, get no direction from their parents at home. One lady said “those kids out here have no guidance”. And that’s something, guidance, that can’t be provided by neighbors, the police or Guardian Angles.

    The Opinion Page of the News Journal puts it this way: Innocent children and adults have been shot. Tragedy is bound to grow. Pressure to stop it must be put on the police, the civilian groups the neighbors and the families. Otherwise, not even the Guardian Angels will be able to help.

    So, when the Guardian Angels knock on your door will you volunteer and become a member of the Wilmington Guardian Angels, or not?



    John Watson is a long time observer of Wilmington and Delaware from his perch as a radio talkshow host. You can write him:

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