A letter from Wilmington delegation legislators regarding violent crime has sparked some mixed reaction from city leaders.
Following Tuesday’s letter urging city officials to adopt the Wilmington Public Safety Strategies Commission report and its recommendations, Mayor Dennis Williams and City Council President Theo Gregory both thanked state leaders for their continued support to tackle crime.
The letter from members of the Delaware General Assembly also stated the Joint Finance Committee’s offer of additional public safety funding is based on the city’s level of cooperation with the state.
The mayor also responded by saying that contrary to what some believe, the police department has implemented 90 percent of the recommendations from the Wilmington Public Safety Strategies Commission Report.
“The department’s partnerships with various law enforcement agencies, including the DOJ and FBI, led to a 91 count indictment against 13 gang members involving six homicides, numerous violent crimes, and weapons charges,” said Williams, who also named deployment strategies such as DISRUPT as initiatives that have decreased various crime activities since 2012.
In his response, Williams asked the state to treat Wilmington with the same fairness and cooperation as other cities and towns in Delaware.
“The city of Dover has tripled their number of homicides from last year, which is the highest number the city has recorded since at least 1988. Yet the funding provided by the Joint Finance Committee to address Dover’s public safety issues contained no strings or stipulations,” Williams said.
Meanwhile, the letter from Gregory urged the mayor’s administration to immediately work with the state.
“The administration should also adhere to the stipulation that it cooperate with a crime commission consultant to review what has and has not been accomplished with respect to the crime commission recommendations,” Gregory said.
But, in the letter from Williams to the lawmakers who represent Wilmington, the mayor had highlighted a number of initiatives Chief Cummings and the Wilmington Police Department have implemented following the Wilmington Public Safety Strategies Commission Report.
“On June 1, 2015, Chief Cummings announced a comprehensive strategic public safety plan that added 12 officers to the Homicide/Violent Crimes Unit, dedicated 25 officers to community policing efforts throughout the three-sector deployment, and integrated multiple technology components into the department,” Williams’ letter stated.
He also brought attention to the impact of the changes to fight crime.
“Increasing the size of the Homicide Unit and creating a Homicide/Violent Crime Unit has allowed for a comprehensive approach to investigating violent crime. In addition, the renewed emphasis on community policing has led to an increase in crime clearance rates and strengthened relationships between the police and the community,” Williams added.
According to Gregory, the city council will review the progress being made in meeting the recommendations of the crime commission as well as other steps being taken to improve public safety.
“We don’t have the luxury of time as we try to bring the crime issue under control. We need to work better together and trust each other more,” Gregory said.
“I hope to continue to engage in open dialogue with members of the city delegation, and extend an invitation for each of you to meet with me and other city officials to engage in a more in depth conversation about education, infrastructure, economic development, public safety and recidivism, as each of these factors impact crime,” Williams added.