This is a smart move by the City. While supporting the measure, Commissioner Slavin said: ” … more isn’t necessarily better — better is better.” He is quite right, but I would and to that: “More of better is best!” Better relationship/communications between citizens and the police can help reduce crime and may prevent the ongoing nationwide outrageous misuse of deadly force, such as what killed George Floyd and has left father of three young kids, Jacob Blake, paralyzed.
Excerpts from the Article:
Seeing a need to change how the Dover Police Department is engaging with its city residents, City Council members unanimously voted in a virtual meeting Monday night to participate in a federal grant program — Community Oriented Policing Services — that will add five new community police officers next year.
Dover Police Chief Thomas Johnson presented the opportunity the grant program offered at a Council of the Whole meeting June 30, but it went without a recommendation from council until further discussions could take place between the chief and Councilmen Tim Slavin and Matt Lindell to answer some lingering questions.
Councilman Slavin said Chief Johnson adequately answered his questions, and he — and the eight other members of council — supported the addition of the five community officers, who will begin training in the spring.
“I had three primary concerns,” Councilman Slavin said. “One, it is a mid-year budget request in the middle of a budget cycle. Second, there was an issue related to the academy and being able to get our new recruits certified and on the street. The third was just really a rising concern in the community that more isn’t necessarily better — better is better. We are looking at new ways of policing our community.
“The approach that the chief explained to me was really to create kind of a new and much stronger emphasis on community policing, so that it’s not just more of the same … that we’re not trying to arrest our way out of problems like addiction or trying to arrest our way out of poverty.”
Councilman Slavin added: “I’ll be quite honest to tell you that I trust what (Chief Johnson) says and the way he said it to me. He has earned my confidence, and we hired him to come into the community to do a job, and to do that job, they asked for these resources, and I think he has taken it head-on.”
In late July, the chief presented the 2019 department recap and pointed to skyrocketing numbers of serious crimes, including firearms, robberies, assaults and drugs, among other concerns. A surge in shootings followed in the first six months of 2020, according to police reports. Increased community policing and outreach could help quell the violence, the chief said.
The COPS Grant will provide funds doled out by the U.S. Department of Justice that will cover $625,000 in associated costs from fiscal years 2021-24, while the city will kick in $1,037,385. The federal portion will pay 75% of the cost in the first year, 40% in the second and 15% in year three.
Councilman Ralph Taylor is a veteran of the Dover Police Department and applauded the renewed focus on community policing.
Councilman Taylor said community police officers made a noticeable difference in the relationship between the city’s citizens and law enforcement, particularly by participating in activities such as the Police Athletic League, hosting homeowners’ association meetings and having bicycle patrols that were “everywhere.”
“Community police officers attended every event, and they built relationships, and that was the biggest thing that I think we’re missing right now,” said Councilman Taylor. “When you’re going from complaint to complaint to complaint to complaint, you don’t have time to build the necessary relationships. There were a lot of positive things happening that I know we can get back to if we have manpower.
“The municipalities in Kent and Sussex counties understand the need, and Dover has taken its rightful place as leaders in policing in 2020, when everything must change — it’s mandatory with our citizens that we cannot continue policing the way it is. I support this initiative 100%.”
The grant approval increases the Dover Police Department’s authorized strength from 101 to 106 officers.
“We’ve been hearing from a number of people in the 4th District,” he said. “We’re hearing from residents. We’re hearing from business owners, of the great need for this, and I’ve definitely seen it myself.
“This will be one part of a four-legged stool that will make our lives better. Community policing is one part of it, and there are other parts, as well, that we’ll need to discuss over the coming months, dealing with community development, economic development. … This is an essential part of it because in security lies the foundation of economic development and community development, and this gives us something to build upon.”
THIS LETTER WAS PUBLISHED IN THE STATE’S LARGEST NEWSPAPER, THE WILMINGTON NEWS JOURNAL, ON PAGE A 6, ON 8/27/20
Letter to Editor or Op Ed Submission – More of Better is Best! 8/26/20
The police chief and the City of Dover are moving in the right direction. They are improving my home town. Adding more officers to the force, properly trained in community policing, should prove that better relationship/communications between citizens and the police can help reduce crime and may prevent the ongoing nationwide outrageous misuse of deadly force, such as what killed George Floyd and has left father of three young kids, Jacob Blake, paralyzed.
While supporting the measure, Commissioner Slavin said: ” … more isn’t necessarily better — better is better.” He is quite right, but I would add to that: “More of better is best!” We all should commend the Chief and the City for their wisdom on this issue, and a police departments everywhere should heed the lesson learned years ago: we cannot arrest our way out of many criminal justice issues; new and more effective approaches are needed.
Ken Abraham, founder of Citizens for Criminal Justice, former Deputy Attorney General, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
LETTER TO EDITOR INSTRUCTIONS………………………………………………..
I get lots of letters published, and ghost write for others. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO REACH THOUSANDS OF READERS! The keys to getting your Letter published are:
1. Keep it to 250 words or fewer.
2. Do not make it about “poor little old me”. Describe the problem as one which not only affects the individual, but is a senseless or ineffective measure, policy, or law which also harms communities and society. For example, with reentry, the obstacles make it unnecessarily difficult for the individual, but also harm society by making it hard to become productive, spending money and paying taxes in the community, and they cause increased recidivism = increased crime.
3. Speak from your heart.
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5. Do not name-call.
Do what works: Write that Letter!
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GOOGLE THE EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR “LETTERS TO THE EDITOR” FOR THE TOP TEN NEWSPAPERS IN YOUR STATE AND SAVE THAT INFORMATION FOR REPEATED USE – Some papers will print a letter from you every 2 weeks, some every 30 days, some every 90 days. They have varying policies.
But if you really want to make a difference shoot them a new letter once a month! I send one out every 2 weeks.
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