Summons count, citations down in Dover due to limited police manpower

DOVER — Taken at face value, Dover police reportedly investigated an alarming number of rape cases in August — 29 to be exact.

Upon further review, however, police said all but two of the incidents were connected to the arrest of a drug and alcohol counselor regarding an alleged sexual relationship with a patient.

Dover Police Department Chief Paul Bernat presented law enforcement activity numbers at Monday night’s city council meeting, which included a rise of 2,222 complaints from the same time last year through Aug. 31.

That was explained by a new computer-aided dispatch system that now documents all traffic stops with a complaint report number, as opposed to previously being classified as a “quick call,” police said.

At the end of August, traffic citations were down 2,239 from the same time in 2014 due to the department’s limited manpower, authorities said.

“Our motorcycle and community policing units are down officers as we continue to hire and train newer officers to fill spots left open from multiple retirements,” spokesman Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman said.

“With the increase in complaints combined with the manpower issues, it makes it difficult to proactively enforce traffic laws. A drop in traffic crash investigations also attributes to this.”

Traffic crash investigations dropped by 150 when compared to Aug, 31, 2014, with much of the decline attributed to new Dover Police policy that does not require police reports for private property accidents such as parking lots, etc.

“We also believe that heavily publicized campaigns such as the distracted driving (cellphone) campaign, have educated drivers in Dover to be more cautious,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

City ordinance summons were down 935 from the previous Aug. 31 of last year.

“This can also be attributed to manpower issues and the fact that ‘certain hours’ parking in the downtown area was not enforced for several months as nighttime street sweeping was not being run during that time,” said Cpl. Hoffman, noting that he believed staffing has now filled that gap.

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