WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Wilmington Mayor Williams' protracted search for a new Chief of Police

Here we are - at the cusp of summer, when things heat up in the streets, both literally and figuratively - and Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams has yet to announce his choice for Chief of Police.

The city's first ever female Chief of Police, Christine Dunning, stepped down in late January to accept a new position in the Gordon Administration.

Williams plugged in Bobby Cummings as the interim police chief.

Williams now appears to be caught in a jam partly of his own making. The long wait to name a replacement has raised expectations.

If he picks Cummings to fill the permanent position (considered fairly likely), he almost inevitably widens the rift with the police union, which has already indicated its concern about Cummings with a vote of 'no confidence'. That followed a recent confrontation between a crowd in the street and police investigating a shooting, a confrontation Cummings and the Williams Administration sought to minimize, and the interim chief's attempt to introduce new shift schedules. Plus, if Williams fills the post with Cummings, people might ask whether the mayor was just going through the motions of conducting a national search (although, once again, as a candidate for mayor, Williams talked about bringing in an outsider). Yet Cummings appears to be simpatico with the mayor, executing Williams' vision for dealing with violent crime -- including the use of the Cure Violence strategy from Chicago. Chicago's cops aren't exactly enamored to the approach of engaging "former" gang members, so there's little likelihood the Wilmington Police Department's rank-and-file would respond any differently.

With regard to hiring an outsider, Williams is immediately hampered by the compensation issue. An outsider with any kind of a track record is unlikely to come here for the rate of compensation Dunning earned. (Williams is already having a devil of a time bumping up the compensation for his new chief of staff, Cleon Cauley, to smooth over his move into the city limits.) Even so, the mayor's office has apparently received a number of outside applicants.

Little doubt an outsider would shake things up, perhaps having a better chance at altering the culture of the WPD, but at the expense of needing time to assess the department -- just as the pace of shootings almost inevitably accelerates with late spring and the start of summer.

But given Williams' penchant for micromanagement - particularly in his old bailiwick, the police department - an outsider might find himself/herself testing the limits very early, and Williams could find himself looking for yet another Chief of Police.

Posted at 7:18am on April 28, 2014 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Mon, Apr 28, 2014 8:32am
Cusp of summer? Sorry, this year that would be approaching June 21st (astronomically). In practical terms, the last day of school or the Memorial Day weekend. This is not even the midpoint of spring.

Here again we see the media wanting focus just on the top person in an organization and give him or her undeserved and unwarranted credit or blame for everything that happens. Firing police chiefs is not going to stop people from shooting each other. It only gives media types something to blather about and politicians the appearance of doing something.

Mon, Apr 28, 2014 9:19am
re: The whole increase of compensation for the chief of staff becasue he has to move into city limits is ridiculous. He applied for the job knowing the requirements of city living, and now wants to be compensated more for doing so?

Mike from Delaware
Mon, Apr 28, 2014 3:25pm
Unless he's moving to one of those very pricey high apartments or off Pennsylvania Ave [by Rockford Park], most houses inside the city of Wilmington cost far less than a home in the Middletown area, so he should be able to sell his Middletown home, and easily afford a house within the Wilmington city limits. This sounds like some flim-flam razzle-dazzle that's going to cost the city taxpayers' money they don't have to waste. Another great reason NOT to live in the city of Wilmington.

Mon, Apr 28, 2014 3:59pm
Most places, the city has good neighborhoods and bad neighborhoods. The main reasons people decided to live outside the city are lower taxes and better schools. Can't escape the city schools by moving out around here.

Mon, Apr 28, 2014 8:03pm
I hereby nominate Yaphet Kotto for police chief.

Mon, Apr 28, 2014 8:23pm
I see where two downstate female school teachers have been arrested in less than a week for having sex with teenage boys. Between all the kiddie porn arrests, the legalization of homosexual marriage, and now this, Delaware has officially become a cesspool of sexual perversion.

Mon, Apr 28, 2014 8:47pm
(1) Yaphet Kotto was shot in the final episode.
(2) You all complain about how Delaware doesn't get enough attention from the rest of the country. This should fix that. I wonder how many teenaged boys had at least one teacher they fantasized about. Probably nearly all. These guys are among the few that got to live the dream. Or maybe their prayers were answered.
As I recall the Trobriand Islanders turn boys over to mature women and girls over to mature men for "instruction." Much better than letting to two horney kids with no idea what they are doing grope each other. School should be teaching Kama Sutra, Tantra, ESO and other techniques to kids.

Mon, Apr 28, 2014 9:21pm
Bill: Couldn't have said it better myself.

Also, it's refreshing to know that somebody remembers "Homicide, Life on the Street". They don't make 'em quite like that anymore.

Tue, Apr 29, 2014 5:24am
Pizza: Yes, it was. At least in the first two seasons. Then NBC started trying to "fix" it by turning it into a regular cop show and hiring good looking actors.
If you haven't read it, I highly recommend the book on which the show was based. Simon, David. "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets."
And like most great shows, Homicide is part of the Tommy Westphall Universe.

Tue, Apr 29, 2014 8:04pm
Thanks Bill.

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