The Hamlet residents voice crime concerns

 

DOVER — Residents of the Hamlet and surrounding areas addressed their concerns regarding aggressive panhandling, loitering in front of the shopping plaza and crime in their neighborhoods during a town meeting on Thursday night.

Roy Sudler Jr.

Roy Sudler Jr.

The meeting was held at Tom’s Bullpen sports bar, as it was initiated by 4th District Dover City Councilman Roy Sudler Jr.

“I heard a lot of complaints by residents and the business owners in that plaza,” Mr. Sudler said. They had a lot of concerns.”

The shopping center includes an M&T Bank, 7-Eleven store, a liquor outlet, two restaurants and a Dollar General store. There are two empty storefronts.

Since December 2014, police have investigated almost a dozen theft reports in the area and at least two major fights in the shopping center.

“People are afraid to come here at night,” said Tom Armstrong, owner of Tom’s Bullpen. “There are people that just hang out in front of the stores, or people constantly asking for money, or just hanging out in general. I just think something needs to be done about it.”

Residents wanted more police presence and cameras in the area, but Mr. Sudler reminded them about the addition of 10 officers to its police force, which was the driving force for the recent tax increase.

“I know we had complaints when that happened,” Mr. Sudler said. “But it was for the safety of the residents of the city. I know people want more police in the area, but we don’t have the man power to do so.

“We’re trying and we’ve made the steps by adding the officers and the cadets, but if you’re fine with us raising taxes again in the future to add more police then that can be a possible solution as well,” Mr. Sudler added.

“The public’s safety is the city’s number one priority.”

One solution mentioned by residents was having a mini police station in the area, but city council president Timothy Slavin had his concerns about the possibility of that happening.

“We did look at the issue of a mini police station a number of years ago,” Mr. Slavin said. “My only concern is every dollar spent on an electric bill or some other bill that’s one less dollar to put someone on the street or one less person that’s in a car.

“We have to man that station and have someone sit behind a desk, as I would rather have someone sit behind in a car controlling the streets.

State Rep. Sean Lynn said there needs to be a combination of everything moving forward.

“It starts with people having a sincere interest in people reclaiming their neighborhoods,” Rep. Lynn said. “It’s a multi-facet approach, as it’s a combination of everything.

“There needs to be more of police presence in this area, there needs to be a community watch of some kind. I don’t think just one thing is going to solve the issue.”

In the end residents agreed to start a Facebook page with potentially forming a neighborhood watch in the future.

Mr. Sudler was happy with the end results.

“I wanted the community to come together and see what they wanted to do,” Mr. Sudler said. “I think they achieved that tonight. They came up with some key goals moving forward.

“They want to start a neighborhood watch and want more of a police presence and possibly cadets,” Mr. Sudler added.

“They believe with starting here in the Hamlet Shopping Center will help deter crime in The Hamlet community. It was a positive outcome and we’re going to continue to move forward.”

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