David McAllister told County Council's public safety committee
that the past practice of having officers in administrative
positions take turns at street duty on selected nights during
the season has been expanded this year to give squad commanders
an average of five additional officers every night. The
arrangement began during the Memorial Day weekend.
officers are trained and fully qualified for patrol duty, but a
major consideration is the deterrent effect of visible police
presence, he explained.
public safety director Guy Sapp revealed that a complete review
of how the force is deployed is underway. Included, they said,
is a study of how both the county and the state force can
augment the Wilmington police force in combating drug and
drug-related crime on a continuing basis.
in the process of trying to determine what's the best path
forward," Sapp said at a committee meeting on Jun. 7.
said the cooperative talks center on "several techniques that
will lead to a long-term solution," but did not offer any
substantive hints about what they might be. He did acknowledge
concern that any arrangements agreed upon not diminish the
county force's effectiveness in unincorporated suburban areas.
Council members George Smiley and Joseph Reda urged Sapp to
tread carefully in that regard. "I'm not willing to sacrifice
the strides that have been made," Smiley said.
broader context, there seemed to be general agreement that the
county will have to increase the size of its police force to
keep pace with the rate of new development and population
growth. Discussion at the meeting, however, skirted the basic
questions of how much and how soon.
Councilman Jea Street reiterated his previous call for a
significant increase in police manpower. "There's no question
about it -- we need more cops and we need them now," he said.
Councilwoman Patty Powell said it is particularly critical to
match the rapid pace of development in the area of the county
south of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal.
present, the authorized strength of the county force is 357.
There are 12 vacancies and, as Delaforum previously reported, 20
on military leave as a result of the Iraq war and Afghanistan
Material distributed at the meeting indicated that there are
about 225 officers on patrol duty, about 45 detectives and about
25 on special units such as the horse-mounted troop and the
canine unit, Sapp said interviews are now being conducted with
potential candidates for a police academy class next autumn or
Police has about 200 officers in New Castle County.
suggested that it "may be time to revisit" the jurisdictional
agreement between county and state forces. In general terms the
agreement provides for the state to serve areas defined by major
highways while the county handles suburban developments and
deployment review, among other things, will measure how New
Castle County's force stacks up against other jurisdictions that
are comparable not only in population but also the rate of calls
for service, Sapp said.
under consideration is the fact that the amount of crime and
number of calls for service varies widely throughout the county.
McAllister said the busiest district encompasses the area around
New Castle Avenue, Du Pont Parkway and Pulaski Highway with the
area west of Interstate 95 and around Newark running a close
second. He said the volume drops off considerably in the
northern district and south of the canal.
Another consideration, McAllister said, is that development has
significantly impacted response time. "With the traffic, it
takes considerably longer to get from one place in the county to
another than it used to," he said.
department, Sapp said, is about to propose legislation to deal
with the significant problem of having to divert officers to
respond to automatic alarms in residences and businesses, all
but a tiny portion of which turn out to be false. He indicated
that the proposal is likely to call for fines for falsely
triggering more than three alarms. The intent, however, will not
be to raise revenue but to provide an inducement for those who
have alarms "to learn how to use their systems correctly," he
Councilman William Bell, who chairs the committee, said that the
size of the force and its deployment will require balancing need
against resources. "If we need more cops, we have to find out
how to fund them," he said.
costs $109,000 a year to put an officer on the street,
McAllister said. That includes salary and employee benefits as
well as the cost of equipment he or she requires.
federal government is not a likely source of financial
assistance to expand the force, he explained.
"There's no money [available] for any hiring purposes," he said.
"There's a lot of money for equipment from [the U.S. Department
of] Homeland Security, but no boots-on-the-ground so far."