Wilmington neighborhood gives thumbs up on community policing efforts

 (Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

(Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

A Wilmington neighborhood says it has proof that one of Mayor Dennis Williams’ crime fighting initiatives is making an impact.

Browntown residents in Wilmington believe the community policing,  which Williams claims will be a key to cleaning up Wilmington streets and some of the city’s crime infested neighborhoods are showing positive results.

“When it comes to community policing for us, it is a mechanism that we have at our disposal to really get at some of the crime element,” said Bernadette Evans who leads about twelve block captains in the Browntown neighborhood.

Over the weekend, Evans who considers the community police like the “Navy Seals”, organized a gathering in the wake of a shooting that left a man wounded on February 2 in Browntown. According to Evans, the neighborhood has made great progress thanks to community police efforts. However, she reports police officers were recently pulled off the streets to monitor hot spots in the City under “Operation Disrupt”.

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“Without community policing, if someone tells me something, there’s no place to send it. So the issue just fester, grows.  We’re not trying to become the next shooting gallery,” Evans said.

Now things are different. Evans, neighborhood residents and city officials make themselves more visible by setting up shop at the corner of Cedar and Anchorage Streets. The goal is their visibility and they hope that sends a message to those thinking about doing crime there. Residents chose the location a few blocks away from the shooting on Marshall and Stroud Streets on Tuesday.

“We’re watching as many pockets of Browntown as possible,” Evans said.

Donna Faulkner, block captain of 9th Ave. who moved from Santa Barbara, California to Wilmington called the recent shooting an isolated incident that has put everyone on alert.

“That was the first time that I’ve heard some bad news like that in over a year,” said Faulkner who doesn’t count random break-ins in the neighborhood as part of the bigger crime problem.

Like Evans, Faulkner isn’t too happy that community police officers were temporarily assigned to other areas, but Councilman Robert Williams, a retired officer offered an explanation.

“When you’re under a crisis state as we’ve experienced in the last week or so, I think this is the right thing to do, you put everybody out there, you saturate the neighborhoods, you get the word out on the street that this isn’t the place to come and do your dirty work,” said Williams who represents the 7th District.

Bottom line, Browntown residents urge other neighborhoods to take a stand, hit the streets and embrace community policing that has produced positive results so far.

“Being an outsider, I’ve seen a dramatic difference between last year and this year because of the work that we have done as a community and working with the police officers,” Faulkner said.

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