‘Lights-On Dover Strong’ campaign to start Phase II


DOVER — Restoring Central Dover is continuing its mission to shine some light on some of the problems that the downtown area of the city has faced in recent years.

Restoring Central Dover, which is a Comprehensive Neighborhood Revitalization Plan that was adopted in 2014 and is led by Dover-based nonprofit NCALL, is set to begin Phase II of its “Lights-On Dover Strong” campaign this month.

David Clendaniel, chairman of the safety work group for Restoring Central Dover, encourages downtown residents to light up their front porches and backyards to deter criminal activity.

Mr. Clendaniel said a National Institute of Justice study conducted in 2008 showed that improved lighting in an area decreases crime by 21 percent.

“Restoring Central Dover is born out of concerns for downtown safety, not only for residents but also for businesses and economic development,” Mr. Clendaniel said. “Safety is a concern for all citizens and all businesses and we really have made a lot of improvements in downtown Dover.

“We want to make sure we have lights on the houses so that it deters crime and people can see more what’s happening around them and feel safe.”

Chanda Jackson, a community engagement specialist at NCALL who serves as is the community organizer for the “Lights-On Dover Strong” initiative, said the program has been received better than she could have ever imagined.

“Phase I of ‘Lights-On Dover Strong’ was more than we anticipated, which is great!,” Ms. Jackson said. “We had success as well as lessons learned — which lessons learned are being implemented in Phase II. The increased interaction with neighbors talking to neighbors and their increased communication with the police is great.

“Residents are very receptive and excited to receive the free lighting for their homes and often times approach us before we can approach them. The ability to go door-to-door and speak with residents has been amazing and has created a greater level of community cohesiveness. We are excited about continuing this campaign and hope to be able to do more for our community.”

The program’s first phase provided dusk-to-dawn energy-efficiency LED lights for the front porches and solar-powered LED motion flood lights for the backyards of 187 homes in the high-risk areas within central Dover.

Phase II of “Lights-On Dover Strong” will take the lessons learned from the first phase and adapt those for lighting installations scheduled for 300 homes in Lincoln Park, as well as areas bordered by Division, Kirkwood, William and State Streets.

Restoring Central Dover plans to complete 100 of the light installations before the end of the year with the balance scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2018.

Dover Police Chief Marvin Mailey said the “illuminating Dover” initiative is one that is paying dividends.

“I think that the ‘Lights-On Dover Strong’ initiative has been a very positive move for the city of Dover,” Chief Mailey said. “We have seen a tremendous decline in the amount of burglaries committed in 2017 and we credit this program and proactive policing.

“Overall, the ‘Lights-On Dover Strong’ initiative has made these neighborhoods safer places to live.”

Dover City Councilman Fred Neil was a big supporter when he heard about the plan to illuminate areas downtown earlier this year.

“I don’t think there’s any question about lighting being a key to crime prevention and to be able to see what’s happening out there,” Mr. Neil said. “I don’t think there’s any question about the fact that the more lighting you have, the brighter it is, that it’s tougher for the criminals to hide.”

While the light bulbs for the campaign are provided free of charge, Restoring Central Dover does ask residents to sign a pledge.

“As we pass out these light bulbs we’re going to go to the houses in the target area and give them a light bulb for their porch,” Mr. Clendaniel said. “In order to get a free light bulb, we’re going to ask residents to sign a pledge – one is to keep the lights on and two is to report crime when they see it.”

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