Denn calls for funds to go toward crime prevention

DOVER — Delaware Attorney General Matthew Denn put pressure on the General Assembly’s Joint Finance Committee Friday to allocate $2 million from settlement funds to combat violent crime.

The funds, received as part of $36 million in settlements negotiated by the Delaware Department of Justice with Bank of America and Citigroup for misconduct, would go to law enforcement in Dover and Wilmington under Mr. Denn’s plan.

Mr. Denn, Delaware State Chamber of Commerce President Richard Heffron and Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council Executive

Director Rashmi Rangan called for JFC to hold a special meeting this month to release funding to allow police to combat violent gun crimes.

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Matthew Denn

Money from a similar settlement with JPMorgan Chase was used earlier this year to pay overtime salaries to Wilmington Police Department officers to conduct foot patrols in high-crime areas of the city at night.

According to the Department of Justice, the patrols helped reduce the homicide rate by two-third.

In a letter to JFC members, Mr. Denn and community leaders said that gun crimes are “killing and wounding residents (including in some cases children), creating chaotic living situations for those trapped in violent neighborhoods and threatening the economic vitality of both the state’s capital and its largest city.”

Earlier this year, Mr. Denn pitched a number of proposals to JFC about how to spend the settlement money, recommending it be used to fund substance abuse programs, renovate abandoned homes and assist teachers in low-income schools. Much of his plan was rejected, however, with lawmakers on the budget committee protesting they, not the attorney general, decide how funds are spent.

“We have strong opinions about the importance of the General Assembly spending all of the remaining $30 million in settlement funds on specified projects for low-income communities rather than simply folding them into the General Fund, and we will reiterate those opinions at the appropriate time,” the letter to JFC members reads.

“For now, though, our request is that the Joint Finance Committee agree to the use of a small fraction of those funds to allow us to secure the streets of Dover and Wilmington.”

JFC is set to meet at the end of the month for a regular gathering.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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