Dover police chief eyes new strategy to fight violent crime

DOVER — A 30 percent increase in violent crime in the city of Dover in 2018 has spurred Police Chief Marvin Mailey to institute changes to the Dover Police Department’s strategy toward fighting the criminal element.

Chief Mailey was apologetic as he read those violent-crime figures to members of Dover City Council in the council chambers of City Hall on Monday night.

“I’m not happy with the violent crimes number and I’ll tell you why I’m not happy with this number — we showed an overall increase of about 30 percent,” Chief Mailey said. “That’s not satisfactory, for me or members of the Dover Police Department. We know that that is our mission. That is our first strategic goal …”

“Job number one is to reduce the violent-crime numbers. We’ve got to be tough. If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. I take credit for our crime-rate raising. That’s my job … so I have to do a better job.”

Chief Mailey presented the Dover Police Department’s annual report to city council on Monday.

“I think you’re a little hard on yourself when you present these statistics,” Dover City Council President Tim Slavin told Chief Mailey. “I think you’re doing a lot better job than you’re giving yourself credit for.”

While most of the 2018 crime statistics appeared to be positive for the department, the chief said the increase in violent crime was unacceptable.

The police department’s total complaints increased by 0.48 percent in 2018 with 43,026 complaints, which was 204 more complaints than the previous year (42,822).

The city experienced a 30.57 percent increase in violent crimes (346 in 2018 compared to 265 in ’17), which includes crimes such as murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. The total number of serious Group A Crimes also increased by 4.34 percent (4,902 in 2018 compared to 4,698 in ’17).

“When I took over as chief, I wanted to do a better job at preventing crime — I know we did a great job solving crime — but we need to work more towards preventing crime,” said Chief Mailey.

“What are we going to do for that? That’s my job to figure out a game plan and this is our game plan going into 2019.

Marvin Mailey

“We are going to move more towards directed patrols in certain areas. Right now, we break the city up into regions and we attack those regions with various forms of enforcement. So, there will be more directed patrols using grant money and federal grant money that we receive.”

The chief added, “We’ll put more foot patrols in the areas, more officers in the area to try to prevent those things that I talked about — the problem areas. With that, you will see additional cameras in certain areas of the city.

“Additionally, we’re going to add some personnel, not proposed personnel that I’m asking for but using the personnel that we have in our building.”

Chief Mailey said that four officers that just graduated from the Delaware State Police Training Academy will soon be going into the patrol unit which will allow the department to get 12-person patrol shifts across the board. He added that he will be taking two officers off patrol, which will still allow him to have full 12-person shifts, and will put one officer into motorcycles and another into community policing.

Even with the increase in total serious Group A Crimes in 2018, of the 4,902 crimes reported, 2,859 of those crimes were cleared.

Out of the 346 violent crimes reported, 260 were cleared. Dover police exceeded the previous national averages in closure rates for the sixth consecutive year.

Those numbers were extraordinary to City Councilman Fred Neil.

“The thing that jumps out to me and it has since I’ve been on this council is the closure rate,” Councilman Neil said. “It’s well above the national rate and it’s phenomenal. The fact that the evil-doers aren’t getting away with it … you’re able to track them down and bring them in.”

Drug addiction fueling crime

Chief Mailey and City Councilman Tanner Polce agreed that the increase in people addicted to narcotics is the one common ingredient that is leading to increased burglaries, robberies and shoplifting incidents throughout the capital city.

“We’re seeing more and more crime created in the city and I can tell you why from our perspective, it’s because we’re having more and more usage of narcotics,” Chief Mailey said.

“Our shopliftings have gone through the roof because people are stealing merchandise to buy drugs.

“It’s happening in our city, it’s happened for years, we’re just seeing a lot of it because people aren’t making use of the rehabilitation efforts afforded to them and they are not asking for help until they reach that point in their life where they are overdosing.”

The Dover PD’s Criminal Investigation Unit Detective Section continues to solve serious crimes and produce incredible clearance rates for those crimes.

In 2018, the six detectives assigned to the section investigated a total of 1,156 complaints. Last year, the detectives investigated 51 robberies (five more than ’17), solving 82 percent of them, and investigated 66 burglaries (nine more than ’17), solving 74 percent. The clearance rates are much higher than the national average.

“It continues to be the philosophy of the Dover Police Department that a very large percentage of crime in Dover is tied to illegal drug use,” Chief Mailey said.

“During 2018, the Drugs, Vice and Organized Crime Section (DVOC) accounted for 719 proactive drug arrests. Because of these arrests, this group of officers seized significant amounts of illegal drugs and money, including 14,159 grams of marijuana, 4,722 grams of cocaine, 258 grams of heroin, 340 doses of ecstasy and $253,864.27 in cash.

The DVOC officers also contributed to the seizure of 49 firearms within the city and 15 guns outside of the city.

“Looking at the spike in criminal activity, in my opinion, it highlights an individual in active addictions’ behavior,” said Councilman Polce. “You see an increase in robberies, an increase in burglaries.

“In the community that Councilman (Matt) Lindell and myself represent, we’ve seen a spike in break-ins in cars. My car was (broken into) three weeks ago.These are all types of behaviors that are classic for individuals still in active addiction.”

Shootings down slightly in city, murders even, crashes up

The Criminal Investigation Unit didn’t experience an increase in homicides last year compared to ’17 and saw a decrease by 10 incidents overall for the amount of shooting investigations in 2018 from the previous year.

The detectives investigated a total of four homicides in 2018 (also four in ’17), all of which have been cleared.

They investigated 31 shooting investigations, of which 17 of the reported 31 shooting victims were shot and sustained injury or were killed as a result of the gun fire.

In the remaining 14 investigations, persons were either shot at while occupying a residence or a vehicle. The shooting clearance rate was 27 percent.

The number of vehicle crashes increased 2.15 percent from the previous year. Traffic arrests for 2018 decreased 30.3 percent as compared to ’17, with the total number of traffic arrests at 9,281.

“The work that’s being done is incredible and is of incredible value to this community,” City Councilman David Anderson said. “I just wanted to point out that I’m not overjoyed that some (crime) numbers have edged up slightly, but most of the numbers are coming off lows … some of them four- or five-year-lows.

“Many of them are still lower than many in previous years. I just wanted to establish some context because you do have fluctuations in numbers.”

Looking to the future

This year is going to be one tremendous balancing act for Chief Mailey and members of the Dover Police Department.

The chief said he anticipates ramping up traffic enforcement this year, which often leads to arrests of a more serious nature. The department is also going to partner with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in an initiative called Project Safe Neighborhoods, which will bring a third-party company into the communities and will put families into contact with and provide services on a basic level such as mental-health and drug-addiction counseling, among other services.

“Obviously, there’s some work that needs to be done, but we’re doing a lot of things right, too,” said Chief Mailey. “I think our philosophy for crime prevention is sound. I think it needs some tweaking and we’re going to be doing some things differently, because if you don’t change then things will remain the same. We’re a progressive department and will continue to press forward with new initiatives and new ideas.

“We’re doing what we can. We’re working hard. Actually, the men and women in the Dover Police Department do a phenomenal job and I can’t take credit for the work they do. They bust their butt every day and night.”

One of the more pressing issues facing the Dover Police Department is that 17 officers are currently eligible to retire and most are ranked Sergeants and above.

Dover’s police force currently has 98 active officers with three vacancies. Chief Mailey will be seeking four additional officers when the city of Dover puts its Fiscal Year 2020 budget together in May.

“We all know that there’s a possibility that there could be a wave of retirements,” Chief Mailey said. “I know of a couple of officers right now who are looking at other jobs in other fields and we’ll have to adjust for it.

“We’ll continue to function. We’ll stay afloat. It’s my job to make sure that we stay effective, so that’s what I’ll do. You can count on that.”

Facebook Comment