Operation Disrupt vs Wilmington Public Safety Commision: what’s the best option?



Headlines make you wonder if  Wilmington is anywhere near solving its violent crime problems. John Watson has a commentary.

Here is John Watson’s commentary:

There was good news when the creation of “Operation Disrupt” was announced after late January events when seven people, six of whom were teenagers, were shot in three outbreaks of gunfire. Two were killed.

Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings was alarmed by all the bloodshed involving so many teenagers. He said, “something in the climate has changed, so we looked internally to see what we could do to make an impact to this immediately.”

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This lead to the creation of “Operation Disrupt”. Since the January implementation we are told that when Operation Disrupt is in a Wilmington hot spot no crimes are committed.

Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams continually voices his support of Chief Cummings’ work of fighting crime and violence in our city. However, after studying Wilmington’s violent crime problems, Governor Markell’s “Wilmington Public Safety Strategies Commission” report made over a hundred recommendations for change, doing everything it can to pull the Wilmington Police Department apart.

One of the first targets was Operation Disrupt. The report suggests changing the 22 teams to just nine. It recommends the creation of a deputy police chief to help Cummings do his job.

Needless to say, neither of these suggestions are supported by the mayor or the chief. If someone wanted to “disrupt” my hard work, I wouldn’t be that happy.

Meanwhile, the media tells us that some neighborhood leaders and others are urging the mayor to fully implement the commissions’ police plans.

Paul F. Calistro Jr., a member of West Side Grows Together who also heads the West End Neighborhood House, says the commissions’ report is full of common sense ideas. Many of which are supported by residents and community leaders.

Calistro voiced complaints about how senior officers supervise their staff and he claims there is no standard operating procedure to investigate serious shootings. He cites the low arrest rate among homicides as his proof. But that number doesn’t include the number of crimes that weren’t committed because of Operation Disrupt.

Mayor Williams said he and the consultants found some common ground, based on their similar law enforcement backgrounds. But he is still holding fast to his opposition to some of the panels’ key recommendations.

How this all plays out will be interesting. Most of the neighborhood organizations and many residents seem to support the recommended changes more than they do Cummings or Williams. But as I have said in the past it does seem like the mayor and the chief are on the right track. Can they accept some of the recommendations and not change their approach?


John Watson is a long time observer of Wilmington and Delaware from his perch as a radio talkshow host. You can write him: JohnWatson1506@comcast.net



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