Sudler lashes out at mayor’s response to Dover shootings

DOVER — Bullets keep flying in Delaware’s capital city nearly two months after officials publicly announced plans for aggressive enforcement to combat the ongoing violence.

At a news conference on May 26, Mayor Robin R. Christiansen referenced a “zero tolerance” policy several times for those violating all laws in the city, including loitering, drunken behavior, and drug activity.

Recently promoted Police Chief Marvin Mailey stood by his side in front of the cameras at City Hall and asked for the public’s cooperation in assisting investigations with information, even if provided anonymously.

Regular gunfire has continued on since then and the mayor again called for law enforcement to step up efforts on Thursday.

Since Feb. 28, 19 victims have been killed or wounded in 15 shooting incidents within and just outside Dover’s city limits.

Roy Sudler

But Councilman Roy E. Sudler Jr., a strong advocate for promoting Chief Mailey to the city’s top cop position in May, lashed out at the ongoing approach to gun crimes and enforcement, describing the mayor’s zero tolerance policy as “a joke.”

According to Mr. Sudler the current plan is “zero tolerance with zero enforcement.”

City council should have more input on crimefighting strategies in Dover, according to Mr. Sudler.

“The mayor continues to demonstrate in more ways than one that his powers and duties are of a strong mayor form of government when in fact, the City of Dover is a strong council/city manager former of government, which means that he needs approval from the Safety and Transportation Advisory Committee first, then city council in order to approve overtime or additional monetary expenditures that will greatly affect the taxpayers of Dover.”

The mayor, in a letter to city council members just a few hours after two shootings in the same block in the Capital Green neighborhood, referenced “[a] renewed strategy, including enhanced site specific foot patrols and other enforcement strategies including continued zero tolerance, will be in place.”

The mayor also said that overtime shifts and associated costs may be needed, which “will be used prudently and responsibly.”

Noting his “upmost confidence” in Chief Mailey and Dover Police Department’s executive staff, Mayor Christiansen said, “I continue to trust the chief of police and hope council members share the same opinion.”

The mayor’s letter to council closed with “Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions or concerns.”

Despite the ongoing shootings after the public announcement, Mayor Christiansen said “We certainly have made progress but every plan and strategy are subject to rework.

“That’s why plans are fluid.”

Asked if he had confidence in Chief Mailey, Mr. Sudler answered, “Absolutely, I have 200 percent confidence in Chief Mailey. My concerns and questions of low confidence is with the mayor’s ability to connect with the community leaders and ex-offenders that can bring a stop to this madness.”

In Mr. Sudler’s opinion, the mayor doesn’t possess, “the Leadership that it takes to bring everyone to the table with no surprises or hidden agendas.”

More voices are needed to address Dover’s dangerous crime wave, Mr. Sudler said.

“The mayor is in a position to really promote a positive change in Dover, but I think his approach needs much input from all council-members for desired success and meaningful impact,” he said.

Who weighs in?

Dover is facing serious crime issues as is Kent County, Wilmington, the State of Delaware and communities across the nation, Mayor Christiansen said.

There’s no disputing that immediate action against gun-toting criminals operating within city limits is needed, Mr.

Robin Christiansen

Sudler said. He referenced his earlier public push to strengthen city council’s role in the process. His earlier prediction of increased shootings have unfortunately been validated, according to the councilman,

“I am in agreement that a unique plan of action needs to rapidly be orchestrated, but not without city council being a significant contributor to that plan of action,” he said.

“ … The chain of command should reside with city council for any plan of action to deter criminal activity and enterprises not only effects councilpersons districts but also, council budget.

“Until the City of Dover changes the charter to a strong mayor form of government, in my opinion, all decisions or comprehensive plan of action pertaining to a ‘zero tolerance ordinance’ should be approved by city council and implemented by the mayor.”

According to Mayor Christiansen, “I will not relegate that responsibility to a committee nor will my chief of police.

“The information we are working with is sensitive to some of the strategies and not privy to other people other than the men and women of the Dover Police Department because it’s their safety that is at risk as well as the men and women of the community in which they operate.”

Keeping with a platform during his run for office, Mr. Sudler said he’s still advocating for mini mobile police stations to operate at the most distressed areas of the city.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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