Mayor addresses Wilmington’s crime problem

Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams spoke for exactly 11 seconds yesterday, prior to police chief Christine Dunning outlining the city’s new public safety plan; but, on paper the mayor had a lot more to say.

The city published the full text of its new public safety plan on its website, which included 2.5 pages from the mayor discussing the nature of Wilmington’s crime problem over the past decade.

“The crime problem in Wilmington is worse than many big cities in the same region of the country,” Williams wrote. “Its high crime rate has all but destroyed the quality of life of the residents, and it continues to limit the economic growth potential of the city and of the entire state of Delaware.”

Williams largely blames rival drug crews for the city’s worst crimes, but adds burglary and vandalism also plague the city’s residents, knocking down the first of many dominoes.

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“Crime and fear of crime can affect how people feel about their communities and their personal investment in them.”

Consequently, Williams says, residents rely more on police and the courts to address crimes, big and small, overwhelming officers, resulting in “strained police-community relations.” That’s why building a rapport between officers and residents is one of three components to Williams’ crime plan.

“Each type of neighborhood calls for a different policing strategy,” Williams said. “We believe by matching the police approach to the neighborhood type, we will be more successful in reducing crime and building strong relationships.”

According to the mayor, neighborhoods will be identified in one of four ways:

Strong – low crime and high resident participation
Vulnerable – low crime and low resident participation
Anomic – high crime and low resident participation
Responsive – high crime and high resident participation

NewsWorks spoke with the mayor last month following the murder of 16-year-old Ahkee Flonnory, the city’s first homicide of 2013.

“Once I have this plan up and running, you’re going to see some immediate changes,” he said.

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