Report shows crime drop in Dover

 

Dover Police Chief Marvin C. Mailey works on his computer at the Dover Police Department. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Councilman David Anderson responded succinctly.

“Our neighborhoods are safer,” he said when asked about a Dover Police presentation on crime trends Monday night.

Speaking before elected officials at the public meeting held at City Hall, Police Chief Marvin Mailey highlighted his department’s aggressive approach to law enforcement in Delaware’s capital city.

Statistically speaking, according to Dover PD’s annual report, violent crimes in Dover lessened from 2016 to 2017, along with property crimes and drug offenses.

That correlated to a significant drop in traffic arrests — 16,890 in 2016 and 11,761 in 2017.

“I believe traffic enforcement has a place in police work, but I would much rather have my officers out patrolling in their neighborhoods performing security checks, out engaging the public and out deterring the crime,” the city’s top cop said.

“Our game plan is pretty solid.”

Video of Chief Mailey’s 20-minute presentation and question and answer session with council that followed is available online at cityofdover.com/meetings.

The report came just hours after the relative calm was disturbed by six offenses citywide involving five firearms and a knife from March 9 to 12.

“We still have some dustups every now and then but principally we shut down the gangs, we shut down a lot of the shootings that were going on,” the chief said.

“We plan to keep the pressure on. It will not stop because we know we have people out there, bad actors out there that want to commit crime.”

The chief recalled a spate of gun-related violence last year and how a “young, very motivated” police force of 96 officers responded.

“Our presence is a deterrent,” he said. “It’s hard to put a number on how many crimes you prevent by your simple presence, by being in the community, by moving about, by people seeing patrol cars, by people seeing officers out there.

“You can never put a number on it because you don’t know what you stop, but you know by looking at the numbers we’re making a difference.”

Also key was a seven-week gang initiative that brought 57 arrests and 24 firearms taken off the street. The chief saluted new hire Pfc. Robert Cunningham from the federal border patrol for identifying drug dealers from Seaford who were conducting business at Dover nightclubs and “contributing to the turmoil at these locations.”

Regarding traffic crashes dropping 6.6 percent, the chief surmised “People are driving better. They’re putting their phone down, seeing us out there, we don’t need to write as many tickets.”

Analyzing crime

Police supervisors use a crime analytics program and discuss data every two weeks in deciding how to address crime, and deploy officers to “areas where he know crime is going to occur and has been occurring,” Chief Mailey said.

By applying analytics, the chief said, it can be determined, “Where crimes occur, at what rate and why.”

With “a chunk of” recent grant money, law enforcement is exploring moving surveillance video cameras now prevalent downtown east to the Capitol Green neighborhood and across U.S. 13 to White Oak Road. Chief Mailey believes cameras at the entrances of parks will keep the areas safer.

Calling himself “pleased” with the annual report, Councilman Brian Lewis, chairman of the city’s Safety Advisory and Transportation Committee said, “The decreased in overall crime is a direct reflection of Chief Mailey’s improvement efforts and a tribute to his dedicated officers and staff that consistently care about the citizens and the community in which they serve.”

Noting the department’s reported clearance rate of crimes above the national average, councilman Matt Lindell described himself as “pleased with our police department’s progress in combating crime in our city.

“While there is still work to be done, I am confident that we have a department of highly skilled and determined officers and civilian staff who will continue to move the needle in the right direction.

Mr. Lindell stressed the importance of communication with Chief Mailey and Mayor Robin R. Christiansen to “ensure that our police department have the resources necessary to not only combat criminal activity but to prevent crime as well.”

The chief grew emotional at times when discussing PD members and was recognized by councilman Tanner Wm. Polce for “the passion for his department, our community and the desire to positively impact change was clear.

“I commend the chief for improving community relations, combating organized/gang crime, and working towards fully staffing our sworn officers.”

Chief Mailey said officers and staff have supported his approach to crime-fighting.

“Our violent crime has dropped and that’s what I get paid to do — to come up with plans to put people in the right place, to put us in position to win, and we’re winning,” he said.

“We still have an uphill and have a lot of stuff we have to get better at in 2018 but my workforce — I’m going to blow our own horn — I have the best department in the city and that’s because I have buy in.

“They believe in my philosophy and I believe they will work hard to achieve that goal. We can’t lose. We’re going to do good things.

“I get emotional when talking about them.”

‘One of the best’

Describing the Dover PD as “one of the best in the state,” Councilman Bill Hare noted an 80 percent crime closure rate as “from what I can see second to none …

“Violent crimes are down and more guns are off the streets, They do an excellent job and work like a family supporting each other when needed.”

The closure rate was “astounding,” in councilman Fred Neil’s view.

“What the report says to me is, the department is listening to our stakeholders and is flexible in its approach in fighting crime,” he said.

“I believe that a huge majority of our crime stems from illegal drugs (which includes illegally obtained prescription drugs). Its a problem that will remain hard to prevent, but wrong doers may be less reluctant to test Dover borders if the trend in the 2017 report is accurate and police department continues the same high effort.”

Councilman Council President Tim Slavin has been impressed with Chief Mailey’s “quiet yet effective leadership …

“He is results-oriented, and gives the credit to the men and women under his charge. He is a true servant leader and we are a better city for it. His strategies have quietly turned things around; our city is safer today than it was a year ago.”

There’s help on the way — four recruits are currently in academy training to join the force. Five of nine authorized cadet slots — part-time personnel not sworn as officers, conducting high visibility patrols and special duty enforcement — are filled.

“Under the police department, the cadet program has been an unqualified success,” Mr. Neil said. “I would like to see it expanded with the hope we could keep to graduates to replace our officers as they retire. Its kind of a like a professional baseball team that drafts a prospect and see them make to the majors.”

 

Crime numbers

The Dover Police Department presented its annual report at a city council meeting on Monday. Some crime numbers included:

Violent incidents (murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault)

2016 – 319 received, 216 cleared

2017 – 265 received, 193 cleared

Seized firearms

2016 – 90 inside city limits, 23 outside

2017 – 84 inside city limits, 16 outside

Drug offenses

2016 – 791 total, 771 cleared

2017 – 738 total, 718 cleared

Property crime (burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, arson)

2016 – 1,920 total, 692 cleared

2017 – 1,708 total, 609 cleared

Traffic arrests

2016 – 16,890

2017 – 11,761

Crash breakdown

2016 – 583 property damage, 945 private property, 418 personal injury and fatal

2017 – 621 property damage, 819 private property, 377 personal injury and fatal

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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