More than a dozen officers are set to patrol some of the city’s crime infested areas in Wilmington again.
Chief of Police Bobby Cummings made the announcement on Wednesday. According to the chief, there will be 14 police officers assigned back to the Operation Disrupt Unit. “DISRUPT” is short for Dealing with Issues of Stabilization through Respect, Understanding and Promoting Trust. The goal is to target some of the heavy gun violence as well as crack down on crime.
“DISRUPT was reduced as part of the broader public safety plan that restructured the department to more effectively and efficiently police our neighborhoods,” said Chief Cummings.
Last week, Andrea Janvier said the the unit changed a bit but reassured the community that the department did not suspend the unit. Last month, Chief Cummings presented a plan designed to restructure the police department. The plan was based on the recommendations of the Wilmington Public Safety Strategies Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Violence Reduction Network. However, according to Chief Cummings the absence of council approval of funding for public safety resources and suspended state supported foot patrols, he decided to move forward with increased patrols.
“While we will still look for ways to work with City Council and state leaders to provide additional resources for the department, we can’t wait to ensure the safety of our communities. Therefore, the WPD will reinforce the operational strategy that has proven to have a strong impact on reducing violent crime in the city. By adding more officers to the DISRUPT unit, there will be more officers patrolling our streets and greater police visibility in high crime areas.”
Wilmington City Council President Theo Gregory immediately issued a statement regarding comments made about council.
“City Council remains open to working with the Mayor to solve the crime problem. There was not enough support among Council Members recently for the hiring of more police administrators. Council has not heard from the Mayor about moving forward. The ball is in his court,” Gregory said.
Operation DISRUPT was first launched in February. It ran through June 4, 2015. During that time officials have reported a decrease in fatal shooting incidents by 50 percent. In addition, non-fatal shooting incidents are said to have dropped by 4.3 percent, while a total shooting incidents decreased 16.1 percent and total shooting victims decreased 15.2 percent. The data is compared to gun violence and crime recorded in 2014.
“If we are going to effectively crack down on violent crime in our city, we will need more public safety and community based resources,” said Mayor Dennis P. Williams. “While we will continue to work with City Council, State and Federal leaders to find support for the additional resources, I support Chief Cummings re-implementing a proven deployment strategy like DISRUPT.”