State authored Wilmington crime assessment released

    (Shirley Min/WHYY)

    (Shirley Min/WHYY)

    Reaction is coming in today over the state committee report examining Wilmington’s violence situation.

    After a two month examination of public safety strategies in Wilmington, the nine-member Wilmington Public Safety Strategies Commission approved a series of recommendations to help fight Wilmington’s significant problem with violent crime.

    Bottom line: the Wilmington Police Department has the resources it needs to combat crime but mismanagement and lack of strategy are creating an ineffective force.

    Highlighted findings conclude that while WPD has access to technology that can analyze and even predict crime, it is lagging behind other law enforcement agencies in leveraging these tools.

    Additionally, lacking investigators and support for victims’ services has put a strain on community relationships resulting in the WPD not solving a sufficient number of crimes.

    Overall, the culture of WPD facilitates a “respond-and-react orientation and structure”. Instead of focusing on proactive implementation of crime reducing strategies the department reacts to resolving calls for service, diluting resources from community patrol and investigative functions.

    There is good news contained in the report, “All of the issues identified in this report are fixable, and none is exclusive to Wilmington. Many of the building blocks for reform are already in place – a city and community that recognizes the need for change…”

    Based on this, some recommendations include: better management of staffing levels; implementation of a community engagement policing strategy; better collaboration with partner agencies, including Downtown Visions and federal law enforcement.

    Included in the recommendations, the report highlights best practices from other communities who have been through similar challenges and found resolutions.

    Delaware Governor Markell, who called for the examination in his State of the State address, responded to the assessment in a statement, “This report can serve as a road-map to implement successful and sustainable practices that would improve public safety in Wilmington.”

    Wilmington City Council President Theo Gregory praised the report and sent a letter to Mayor Williams and Chief Cummings that he would do everything he could to make sure the points of the commission report could be implemented.

    Next steps for the Wilmington Police Department and potential implementation of the recommendations are not clear. A response to a request for comment from the WPD Public Information Officer was not received by the time of publication.

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