Report calls for changes in Wilmington Police Department

By Tom Lehman 12:02am, April 1, 2015 - Updated 10:47am, April 1, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.
A state panel charged with evaluating the Wilmington Police Department on Tuesday released a report from consultants who recommended major structural and policy changes within the agency to Delaware lawmakers and the governor.

The report, which consisted of 200 pages of data, evaluation, and recommendations based on the current arrangement of the city police force, was outlined during a meeting of the Public Safety Strategy Commission.

Consultants with the Police Foundation and Vigilant Resources International, a pair of firms contracted for approximately $200,000 by the state, said in the report the city police department has ample resources but is often undermanned and does not have enough officers on the street.

They also said Chief Bobby Cummings should add two new deputy chief positions to better manage personnel and technology and creation of a homicide and violent Crime Unit, comprised of a captain, two sergeants and two officers.

Former New York City Police Commissioner Howard Safir, the CEO and Chairman of VRI, told the panel that the clearance rate for Wilmington's 28 homicides last year was 14 percent, much lower than the national average of 63 percent.

"It is our opinion, based on the current case load, that five investigators in (the homicide unit) is not enough," he said.

It was the first time panel members had seen the report, but Delaware Homeland Security Secretary Lew Schiliro, a co-chairman of the commission, said he was optimistic that the department could improve its community policing efforts.

"The leadership in Wilmington is in place to do this and we're looking forward to working with Chief Cummings," he said.

In addition to the department leadership proposals, the report included policy changes such as putting lieutenants back on the street and better oversight of the deployment of police officers and resources.

The issues highlighted in the report were said to be fixable by the consultants, but require significant change from police brass.

Cummings said the report aligned with changes he wanted to bring to the department. He noted that many of the recommendations would not require additional funding or resources that would require increasing the agency's $54 million budget.

"We're moving in the same direction. This is good," he said. "It kind of reassured some of the things we're looking at."

Cassandra Marshall, a panel member and the president of the Quaker Hill Neighborhood Association, said the report showed how Wilmington, which has one of the largest authorized police forces per capita in the nation, could better operate its police force.

The study found that the city police department, when fully staffed, should be able to adequately cover Wilmington. The agency is currently 34 officers short of its maximum capacity of 320, but that deficit is expected to be filled by an incoming academy class.

"It's clear that those resources need to be better used," Marshall said.

The report found there has been some success under "Operation Disrupt," a strategy that pulled officers from other assignments and reassigned them to patrol known crime hotspots, but the consultants said it would be unsustainable. New Castle County police assist city officers at least once a week.

Assuming the department reaches its authorized strength, it was recommended that the department create a "community stabilization unit" including eight officers and one sergeant to focus on high-crime areas like the Hilltop or Market Street corridor.

However, a few city officials and residents who spoke at the meeting wondered whether Mayor Dennis Williams (D), who was not in attendance, would support the adoption of the recommendations more frequent and smaller police academies.

Williams previously said he would oppose such a measure because academies are expensive and it would be too costly for the city to hold them more often, despite a rate of attrition that sees one officer leave the department each month.

Councilman Mike Brown (R-At Large), who chairs Wilmington's public safety committee, challenged Williams to support the measures detailed in the report.

"Chief, you're not going to be able to implement this unless the mayor gets on board with this," Brown said. "I'm saying it, and I'm calling it out: Mr. Mayor, get on board with this."

Alexandra Coppadge, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said Williams is open to the commission's suggestions and collaboratively dealing with issues of public safety in Wilmington.

The mayor, however, was not in attendance for the meeting. On Wednesday, Coppadge said the mayor had a scheduling conflict that forced him to miss the panel review.

Nevertheless, the mayor's absence was noted by others who spoke during the meeting.

Laura MacKelcan, a resident living in the city's Trolley Square section, an area regarded as one of the safer parts of Wilmington, said she was "very concerned" about the mayor, who has not attended any of the panel's sessions.

"It's unbelievable, the lack of leadership in our city," she said.

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You can contact Tom Lehman at tlehman@wdel.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook


Man charged with 'exposing his genitals' to passing traffic by Middletown Police

By DJ McAneny 1:23pm, April 1, 2015
Lamont Kee/Courtesy Middletown Police
A Georgia man was arrested by Middletown Police Tuesday for allegedly putting his unmentionables on full display for passing traffic over the course of two days.

According to authorities, a man identified as Lamont Kee, 45, with a last known address of Norcross, Georgia, was spotted exposing his genitals to passers-by traveling in the area of Ashland and New streets at approximately 8:23 a.m. March 31, 2015.

Police said they received calls on Monday, March 30, that a man matching Kee's description had been doing the same thing in the area of Greenlawn Boulevard and Redden Lane.

At 9 a.m. on Tuesday, police received another complaint in the area of Route 299 and the Dove Run Shopping Center of similar caliber.

Responding officers located Kee, who they said was then positively identified by witnesses as the man they had been calling to report. Police said five females, two males and a juvenile girl were victimized by Kee.

Kee was charged with six counts of indecent exposure and two counts of lewdness. He was transferred into the custody of the Department of Corrections in lieu of $5,500, pending arraignment.





DNREC extends planned closure of Wilmington recycling plant

By Andrew Sgroi 8:26am, April 1, 2015 - Updated 10:38am, April 1, 2015
DNREC has ordered the Organic Recycling Center in Wilmington be closed by June 30. (WDEL/file)
The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control extended the deadline for a Wilmington compost facility's scheduled closure.

DNREC issued the order Tuesday, allowing the deadline for closure of Peninsula Compost Company's Organic Recycling Center on Christiana Avenue to be extended three months, to June 30.

The facility, which composts food wastes and feedstock at the Port of Wilmington, had requested an extension from DNREC earlier this year citing "operational and resource limitations" for closing on schedule.

According to the agency's conciliation order, the company will be fined $10,000 per day beyond the deadline for failing to complete all cessation requirements. Additionally, Peninsula has agreed to drop its appeal of the original closure order as well as waive its right to appeal the newer enactment.

Peninsula had been operating its organic recycling facility since 2009, but failed to get its permit renewed last October after more than 200 residents called for the plant to be shut down due to a consistent repulsive odor.

DNREC's original order for closure required the facility to cease accepting incoming materials completely and close all operations by March 31, 2015. The agency advised the majority of materials which remain at the site is finished compost.


EdWatch: Students learn skills to enter Delaware's booming IT sector

By Amy Cherry 8:02am, April 1, 2015 - Updated 10:41am, April 1, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.
Hundreds of information technology jobs await graduates of Tech Impact's ITWorks program. Amy Cherry has more in this week's WDEL Delaware EducationWatch.

Click here to listen



"Delaware is kind of a hidden IT sector," said Anthony Pisapia, Associate Executive Director of Tech Impact, the non-profit behind ITWorks.

Students in the ITWorks program have a solid shot at breaking into the information technology sector, getting good-paying jobs. Facilitated by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware), the students met with representatives from Capital One, Barclays and JPMorgan Chase Tuesday at the ITWorks learning lab in Wilmington. They're more enthusiastic now than ever to graduate in June with new skills that will lead to employment.

ITWorks student Laurence-Paul Williams meets with a representative of Capital One.
Click to interact

"Before this, I was doing general labor jobs, and I thought IT was the way to go...so I wanted to get into this as fast as I could," said Lawrence-Paul Williams, 19, of New Castle.

Students like Caleb Dale, 23, and Diane Jackson, 22, are taking their love for computers to the next level, learning about cybersecurity, PC hardware networking.

"Just growing up and having my own computer, just wanting to take things apart, put 'em back together--knowing how things work," he explained.

"My whole life I've been interested in technology; I'm sort of the person that everybody comes to when they've either blown out their computer or can't get it to turn on," said Jackson.

The ITWorks program in Wilmington is highly competitive with 100 applicants for just 15 slots.

Pisapia said these students can now envision a brighter future.

"If you've only ever worked in fast food or retail, to be able to get inside these companies...to be able to be welcomed inside these environments, changes the opportunities that you see," he explained.

Students weren't shy and asked a lot of questions of Coons and the employers they hope to work for or intern with upon graduation.

"It makes you feel special and like you feel like you're a hot a commodity," Dale said.

Both Jackson and Williams now see different life paths they can take.

"It gives me a little bit of a boost in the morning, you know, just to know I'm moving forward in my career," said Jackson.

"Better than working at some of these other jobs that, you know, I didn't like waking up in the morning--I would love to wake up in the morning and do technology as my job; it's a dream job," Williams said.

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Contact Amy Cherry at acherry@wdel.com or follow her on Twitter at @acherry13.


Judge refuses to dismiss indictment in Matusiewicz case

By Associated Press 8:51am, April 1, 2015 - Updated 10:43am, April 1, 2015
A federal judge has refused to dismiss an indictment against the widow and children of a man who killed two people at the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington.

David Matusiewicz, his mother, and his sister are charged with conspiracy and stalking of his ex-wife, Christine Belford.

Belford and a friend were shot by Thomas Matusiewicz in 2013 at the New Castle County courthouse before he exchanged gunfire with police and ultimately killed himself.

Prosecutors claimed the family spied on and harassed Belford for several years, including posting disparaging remarks about her online.

Defense attorneys argued that the cyberstalking statute was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.

But the judge refused to dismiss the indictment last week, saying the defendants had not shown that the statute violated their free speech and due process rights.



Delaware lawmakers unveil package of bills for women

By Shana O'Malley 6:07pm, March 31, 2015 - Updated 11:33am, April 1, 2015
VIDEO: Lawmakers are unveiling a new package of bills.
Delaware lawmakers unveiled a series of bills addressing women's health, employment and safety issues Tuesday.
The 11-bill package includes the implementation of 12 weeks of family leave for state employees.

Rep. Debra Heffernan (D-District 6) said employees currently have to use vacation days or personal time off when they have a baby or adopt a child.

"Studies have shown that adequate maternity leave reduces the risk of postpartum depression," she said.

There are only seven states that offer 12 weeks of paid family leave for state employees.

"Granting paid leave will contribute to the establishment of parent child bonds, breast feeding establishment, and also allows infants to receive their vaccines so they can develop stronger immune systems before they go to daycare," Heffernan added.

Additionally, legislation to enhance services for victims of sexual assault by requiring additional training for law enforcement officers was introduced. Many sexual assault cases go under-reported because the process can be traumatizing for victims, according to Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South).

"The bill will improve law enforcement's techniques to be victim centered, trauma informed and offender focused," she said.
Lawmakers also called for a statewide audit of all untested and un-submitted rape kits and asked all colleges to follow mandatory reporting procedures to law enforcement.
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Contact Shana O’Malley at somalley@dbcmedia.com or follow her on Twitter at @shanaomalley


Congressman Carney's son a defendant in fraternity death lawsuits

By Bruce Smith/Associated Press 3:33pm, March 31, 2015
A photo of the family from the Congressman's website. Samuel Q. Carney is seen bottom right. (CarneyforCongress.com)
The son of U.S. Rep. John Carney from Delaware is a defendant in two lawsuits over the death of a Clemson University fraternity pledge.

The two lawsuits, filed Monday, each seek at least $25 million in damages in 19-year-old Tucker Hipps' September death. He fell from a bridge into rocky, shallow water during a Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity run.

The lawsuits named three fraternity members--including Samuel Quillen Carney--the university, and the fraternity.

John Carney and his wife, Tracey Quillen Carney, released a statement Tuesday that said no one can feel anything but sympathy for the Hipps family.

They said that since the incident, they've advised their son to tell the truth and remember any detail that might help authorities.

The death remains under investigation.


Wilmington police cruiser hood allegedly stomped on by man, 29, hanging out with teenagers

By DJ McAneny 4:58pm, March 31, 2015 - Updated 8:11am, April 1, 2015
Police cruiser file photo/WDEL
Two men from Brandywine Hundred and a city teen were charged with damaging a police cruiser early Saturday night, police announced Tuesday.

According to New Castle County Police, officers were patrolling the area of Foulk and Grubb Roads for an unrelated investigation at approximately 7 p.m. on March 27, 2015, and had to leave their vehicle for a time.

Upon returning to the cruiser, the officers discovered the hood had been damaged.

A witness in the area told police they had seen a vehicle containing three occupants back up to the cruiser, authorities said. They were informed a white male had exited the vehicle, checked to see if anyone was around, and began jumping on the hood of the car. He then returned to the passenger side of the vehicle he arrived in and the group fled.

A plate number and a description of the vehicle were provided by the witness, police said.

An investigation led officers to the 2100 block of Weatherton Drive in Wilmington, where the operator of the vehicle was staying, police said.

The registered owner, identified by police as Nicholas Findley, 19, of the 2600 block of Pennington Drive, was found in the area. Police said they were then able to locate Wyatt Johnson, 29, of the 2600 block of Naaman's Road, and a 16-year-old teen.
Authorities said Johnson was identified as the suspect who had jumped on the hood of the cruiser.

All three were issued misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief and third-degree conspiracy. Johnson was released on $1,100 bond, Findley was released on $2,000 bond and the juvenile was released on $500 bond.


Wilmington PD to teach kids about policing

By Peter MacArthur 3:52pm, March 31, 2015
WDEL File Photo
Wilmington Police are holding their first-ever Youth Police Academy this summer, in an effort to teach older kids about the responsibilities of the job.

Mayor Dennis Williams called it another example of planting a seed in teens about positive paths in life.

"I do believe that when you find young folks who are interested in law enforcement at an age between 12 and 17 years old, in high school, when they don't know what they want to do," said Williams, "you get yourself an excellent candidate."

The Youth Police Academy is a two-week program starting June 15, 2015. Applications to participate in the program will be accepted until May 15th.


Here's a first: Phils to sell booze in general concession areas

By Paula Wolf/LNP Staff Writer 2:21pm, March 31, 2015 - Updated 2:49pm, March 31, 2015
WDEL File
The Phils and Aramark will start selling cocktails and wine this season in the general concession areas of Citizens Bank Park, Philly.com reported Tuesday.

And, no, this is not an early April Fools' prank. The booze news was predictably greeted by jokes on Twitter, with posters remarking that Phillies fans may want hard liquor after watching the 2015 team, expected to be among the worst clubs in baseball.

Philly.com noted that the bar will be behind Section 142, as an existing beer bar will be expanded. Wine and cocktails, however, cannot be brought out to seats.

The cocktail list hasn't been finalized, but a Phillies-branded wine, a dry red created in partnership with Chaddsford Winery, will be available.

At the stadium, wine and spirits have been served previously at non-Aramark restaurants, as well as in premium seating areas and at Harry the K's restaurant.

Here's some of the Twitter reaction:














Good Samaritan, New Castle County Police save life of cardiac arrest victim using CPR, defibrillator

By DJ McAneny 1:48pm, March 31, 2015 - Updated 2:12pm, March 31, 2015
A New Castle County defibrillator unit/(Tom Lehman/WDEL)
A civilian who performed CPR, along with the use of a defibrillator by authorities, is credited with saving the life of a cardiac arrest victim over the weekend.

According to New Castle County Police, officers on patrol in the area of Capitol Trail and Possum Park Road on Saturday, March 28, 2015, at approximately 12:25 p.m. came across a Good Samaritan performing CPR on an unconscious victim on the sidewalk near Possum Park Apartments.

The officers stopped, taking over CPR duties from the off-duty Emergency Medical Services provider who was assisting the 57-year-old victim with no pulse. A "departmentally-issued Automatic External Defibrillator (AED)" was retrieved and administered to the victim, and CPR continues until New Castle County Paramedics and Aetna Hook and Ladder EMS personnel arrived on scene.

The victim was transported to Christiana Hospital, where officers visited the victim, who was conscious and talking upon their arrival, and took the opportunity to thank them.

"The combination of the civilian and officers' actions that day greatly contributed to the successful outcome of this case," said Chief Lawrence Tan of the New Castle County Emergency Medical Services Division. "In New Castle County, bystander CPR and early access to an AED can result in 2.5- to 3-times greater chance of survival of cardiac arrest victims."


New Castle County Police say truck tailgates continue to go missing

By DJ McAneny 3:12pm, March 31, 2015
Trucks/WDEL File
Someone out there is really into tailgating--and not the burger-flipping kind.

Someone has been stealing tailgates from around New Castle County for a month, and county police gave an update Tuesday saying the total has risen to a dozen in just about a month.

Police said truck owners should lock their tailgates or invest in a locking mechanism to discourage the suspects making off with truck parts.

An investigation has so far reveals that the thieves aren't picky, and will target all years, makes and models, authorities said.

Anyone with information on the recent thefts is asked to contact New Castle County Police are 3o2.573.2800 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.


Markell calls for increased exporting from Delaware businesses

By Associated Press 3:52pm, March 31, 2015
Port of Wilmington file photo/WDEL
Governor Jack Markell said more Delaware businesses need to be exporting their products in order to be successful in an increasingly competitive global economy.

In a speech Tuesday at a Delaware State Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Markell noted that less than one percent of U.S. businesses export, and more than half that do, trade with only one country. He said that's a lost opportunity.

To help Delaware businesses get in the game, Markell announced an enhanced strategic export plan to help find markets with high demand for Delaware products in sectors such as bioscience, chemicals, and information technology.

Markell said those markets include Canada, Mexico, Germany, and South Korea, which are all destinations for Delaware trade missions over the next year-and-a-half.


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