Wilmington residents irked over lack of cellphones for some community police officers

By Tom Lehman 8:33pm, July 27, 2015 - Updated 9:14pm, July 27, 2015
When Tom Baker wants to call one of the two community policing officers assigned to the Triangle neighborhood in Wilmington, he said it's not always as simple as dialing a series of numbers.

Baker, president of the Triangle's neighborhood association, said that's because one of them wasn't issued a cellphone from the city, which means the only method to directly reach him is by email or calling the other officer to help coordinate a discussion.

"I think it's an example of very poor planning if you assign people and don't give them the tools to do their jobs," he said.

Baker is among the residents who are concerned because some community policing officers do not have cellphones and said notifying them about suspicious activity is more difficult.

Cassandra Marshall, the president of the Quaker Hill Neighborhood Association, said she has heard complaints from other people who live in Wilmington about some community officers not having cellphones.

Drawing upon a previous positive experience when she reported a suspicious person, Marshall said a direct line to the neighborhood's officer helped lead to a quick response.

"If the only way to get to them is through the regular Wilmington (police non-emergency number), then that just defeats the purpose," she said.

Some officers appear to not have cellphones because they were reassigned to community policing under a new deployment strategy outlined last month, according to Sgt. Andrea Janvier, city police spokeswoman.

However, Janvier noted that the department is working to issue cellphones for each of the department's 23 active community officers.

"The goal is to make sure every officer has a point of contact," she said.

City Councilwoman Loretta Walsh (D-At Large) said she believes the issue demonstrates a lack of planning by police brass.

"This is just--once again--further proof of our department living in the dark ages," she said.

Alexandra Coppadge, a spokeswoman for Mayor Dennis Williams (D), said community policing officers are intended to act as liaisons between the department and residents. She noted that the administration believes any member of city law enforcement can be considered part of community policing and there are issues officers are often called about that are better handled by other city agencies.

"If constituents have an issue that's not related to public safety, it's better if they call the office of constituent services," she said.

Nevertheless, Baker said he's disappointed with the city and that it's become more difficult for him to contact one of his community policing officers, even though they often do their jobs well.

"How do you expect the people in the neighborhood to get in touch with their community officers if they can't call them?" he asked.


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

Kids learn slithering snakes aren't scary at the Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington

By Amy Cherry 6:18pm, July 27, 2015 - Updated 8:12pm, July 27, 2015
VIDEO: Check out the snakes at the Brandywine Zoo!
Kids are getting an up-close-and-personal look at lizards and snakes at the Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington this summer.

Click here to listen

Every Friday, the reptile house is filled with "Ooh's," "Ah's," and "Ew's" as kids spend some quality time with nature's slithering inhabitants.

"You're okay--I heard a couple people say, 'Ew.' Don't worry," advised Brandywine Zoo educator Hannah Pretz as a snake slithered up her arm. "This pretty new for our zoo, and it's really exciting to kind of bring them out and let the guests have a more personal interaction with them besides being behind a glass."

Kids get up close and personal with lizards and snakes at the reptile show at the Brandywine Zoo.

Click to interact

Pretz, who runs the reptile show, said it took a lot of time and training for her to be able to handle snakes and scaly reptiles so comfortably, but she's always loved animals.

"Just how comfortable and confident they are out in there environment, that's something that I think is really fascinating," she said. "Whether it's a marine environment, terrestrial, tropical, it's just such a different world from what we're living in now with colors and behaviors--that's what really attracted me to it.

Hannah Pretz with the Brandywine Zoo underwent extensive training to run the reptile show.

Click to interact

She became an educator because she wanted to share that love and fascination and help others understand animal's role in the worlds. The interactive reptile show at the Brandywine Zoo not only gives kids a rare up close look with reptiles, but helps dispel some common misconceptions. She hopes the show makes people less afraid of snakes.

Kids learn about snakes and other reptiles in a show at the Brandywine Zoo.

Click to interact

"These guys are really important in the ecosystem," she said. "Kids don't always think that. When they think of a snake, they think of something scary, dangerous, venomous, and I hope kids can take home how important these guys are out in the environment."

The most common questions kids asked at the show were whether they could touch the animals--which wasn't allowed. "Is it slimy?" another child asked. While others wanted to know whether the snakes had mommies and babies.

The show runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through August. In September, the show runs only on weekends. All shows begin at 2 p.m. in the otter circle, weather dependent.


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

Little Big Town cancels Delaware State Fair performance

By DJ McAneny 11:55am, July 27, 2015 - Updated 12:46pm, July 27, 2015
One of the Delaware State Fair's headlining acts, Little Big Town, has canceled their July 31, 2015, appearance, event organizers announced Monday.

Refunds for tickets sold for the event will occur "immediately and automatically," according to a release issued announcing the cancellation.

"Medical reasons" were cited as the cause behind the cancellation.

To replace the act, organizers said an additional night of Championship Demolition Derby would be hosted beginning at 7 p.m. Additionally, organizers are offering $10 off any ticket purchased for Wednesday, July 29, show featuring Josh Turner, Dustin Lynch, and Craig Wayne Boyd, by using the promo code JOSH when making the purchase.

For more information, visit the Delaware State Fair website.

Man fleeing traffic stop tries to ditch gun, Wilmington Police say

By DJ McAneny 11:41am, July 27, 2015 - Updated 8:37pm, July 27, 2015
Howard Watkins/Courtesy Wilmington Police
An 18-year-old Wilmington man attempted to discard a handgun during a pursuit, authorities said Monday.

According to Wilmington Police, during a motor vehicle stop at 9th and North Adams streets, a rear passenger--identified later as Howard Watkins--attempted to flee on foot.

During the chase, authorities noted Watkins was holding the front waistband area as he ran.

After police caught up to Watkins in the 800 block of West 9th Street, a search of the area through which he fled turned up a .40 caliber Glock with an extended magazine, loaded with 16 rounds of ammunition, authorities said.

Police issued the driver of the vehicle two traffic summons for failure to signal and driving without a license.

Watkins was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a person prohibited and resisting arrest. He was committed to the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in lieu of $6,000 secured bond.

Brandywine Hundred bank robber strikes again

By DJ McAneny 11:27am, July 27, 2015
An armed bank robber who struck at a Talleyville bank twice in two months has been implicated in the recent armed robbery of another Brandywine Hundred bank as well, Delaware State Police announced Monday.

According to authorities, the man who robbed the Artisans Bank at 3631 Silverside Road on both May 14, 2015 at 9:18 a.m. and again on June 8, 2015, at 9:30 a.m. is responsible for also robbing the WSFS Bank at 2005 Concord Pike on July 24, 2015, at 9:09 a.m.

In each instance, the suspect enters the bank and approached the teller while displaying a handgun. After demanding and receiving an undisclosed amount of cash, he flees the bank. There have been no injuries.

He's described as a white male, 25 to 35 years old, standing between 5'10" and 6' tall, with a medium build.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Delaware State Police Det. J. Paul Doherty at 302.365.8438 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.

Philadelphia officials still mum on pope visit transportation plans

By Associated Press 4:22pm, July 27, 2015
(WDEL File)
Two months before Pope Francis visits Philadelphia, city officials are still mum on plans for getting around while he's in town.

Mayor Michael Nutter said Monday the city won't start releasing some details on the impact until the first week of August, adding information on possible street closures and security zones will be provided once plans are finalized.

He dismissed maps that surfaced over the weekend showing purported security and vehicle-free zones as speculative and inaccurate. Last week a consultant told regional planners that a bridge connecting downtown and New Jersey would be closed.

Nutter said nothing is official and the U.S. Secret Service will have final say on security and logistics.

Francis's visit will culminate with an outdoor Mass expected to draw more than 1 million people.

UPDATE: New Castle County Police provide cause of woman's death in Brandywine Hundred's Ramsey Roods

By Frank Gerace 9:51pm, July 26, 2015 - Updated 3:27pm, July 27, 2015
Update: New Castle County Police have ruled the woman's death a suicide and not suspicious. There will be no further information provided about the incident.

Details are in short supply about the death of a woman whose body was found Sunday afternoon in Brandywine Hundred's Ramsey Woods.

County Police said officers responding to a reported shooting in the 300 block of Ramsey Road around 3 p.m. found the 28-year-old woman and a 27-year-old man who was trying to perform CPR on her.

Anyone with information can call New Castle County Police at (302) 573-2800 or call Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.

Fairfax-area Wawa robbed at gunpoint

By Jim Hilgen 9:15am, July 26, 2015 - Updated 7:42pm, July 26, 2015
Delaware State Police are looking for clues in the Saturday morning robbery of a Wawa.

The suspect entered the store at 400 Wilson Road shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday armed with a handgun and demanded cash from a 21-year-old female employee.

The clerk gave the robber an undisclosed amount of cash, and the man fled on foot, police said.

He is described as a black male, 20 to 25 years old, 6' tall weighing 160 to 180 lbs.

Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to contact State Police Troop 2, Glasgow, at 302.365.8566 or Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.

UPDATE: Delaware State Police release surveillance photo in Wilmington-area gas station robbery, shooting

By Frank Gerace 9:38am, July 26, 2015 - Updated 11:07am, July 27, 2015
Delaware State Police released a surveillance photo of a man suspected of robbing a gas station west of Wilmington.

Police said the robber asked the clerk at the Shell gas station at 2501 Newport Gap Pike to get some merchandise from a display Friday afternoon, then pulled a gun and fired.

The bullet hit the clerk in the stomach, and the suspect took some cash from the register before driving away in a dark-colored SUV with a missing grille, police said.

The clerk was treated at the scene by New Castle County Paramedics and taken to Christiana Hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries, officers said.

Police think the suspect's SUV could be a Nissan Pathfinder.

Delaware State Police were urging anyone with information to call Det. Jonathon Packard at at 302.365.8434 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.

New Castle County Police: Shots fired in Sparrow Run; 2 homes damaged

By Frank Gerace 9:39pm, July 26, 2015 - Updated 11:04am, July 27, 2015
New Castle County Police are looking for whomever fired shots at 2 homes in Sparrow Run.

Police said officers responding to a "shots fired" report on Raven Turn around 2:50 p.m. Saturday couldn't find any victims, but did notice bullet damage to the homes.

A search for suspects turned up nothing, and police are asking anyone with information about the incident to call them at 302.573.2800 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.

Delaware State Police investigating Rehoboth-area robberies

By Jim Hilgen 9:22am, July 26, 2015 - Updated 11:07am, July 27, 2015
Delaware State Police are investigating a series robberies, which occurred between May and July in the Rehoboth Beach area.

Detectives are looking for the public’s assistance with any information in identifying individuals responsible for the following robberies:
  • On May 26, 2015 at approximately 9:37 p.m., two black men, wearing masks and displaying handguns, assaulted two Hispanic females and removed cash on Airport Road, Rehoboth.
  • On June 13, 2015 at 10:25 a.m., two black men assaulted a Hispanic male and displayed a handgun while removing cash on Airport Road and Miller Road, Rehoboth.
  • On July 4, 2015 at 2:08 a.m., two black men assaulted a white man and removed cash. No gun was displayed on Robinson Drive, Rehoboth.
  • On July 4, 2015 at 2:48 a.m., two black men assaulted a white man and removed cash at Robinson Drive and Silver Lake Drive, Rehoboth.
  • On July 18, 2015 at 1:45 a.m., two black men assaulted a man who was walking along Silver Lake Drive, Rehoboth.

  • The suspects are described as black males, 5'07" to 6' 150 to 190 lbs., wearing dark clothing.

    If anyone has any information in reference to this incident, they are asked to contact police at 302.752.3794 or information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.

    Two teens charged with stealing wallet from parked car in Brookside

    By Frank Gerace 9:39pm, July 26, 2015 - Updated 8:37pm, July 27, 2015
    Two teenaged boys were charged with stealing a wallet from a car parked in a Newark-area development.

    New Castle County Police said 18-year-old Taquan Brice and a 17-year-old accomplice took the wallet from an unlocked car parked on Mallboro Road in Brookside Friday.

    Officers, acting on a tip, found the teens in the parking lot of a nearby ShopRite store.

    Police allegedly found the wallet on Montrose Drive and gave it back to the victim.

    Brice and his accomplice are out on bail, charged with burglary, theft and conspiracy, police said.

    They're also under orders not to have any contact with the victim.

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