Wilm. councilman proposes police deployment plan

By Tom Lehman 5:27pm, December 30, 2013 - Updated 3:22pm, January 1, 2014
A council member in Wilmington has proposed assigning teams of patrol officers to more than a dozen areas as part of a new deployment strategy aimed at reducing crime by strengthening ties between the department and the community.

WDEL's Tom Lehman has more...

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The plan calls for officers would work with community members and organizations in their assigned areas to help address issues specific to each neighborhood, said Councilman Charles "Bud" Freel (D-District 8).

A record number of shootings were recorded in Wilmington this year, but Freel said police often have difficulty receiving information about crimes when witnesses don't step forward.

"I think what it does long term is start to build up trust from the community in the police department and I think once you have that trust, you'll have a lot more cooperation," he said.

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The deployment strategy includes dividing the city into 17 different geographical areas based on census data, but Freel said the number could be decreased based on department manpower.

The plan would be a revival of a strategy that was used previously in the city, he said.

Councilwoman Maria Cabrera (D-At Large) says she supports the plan and likes the idea that officers would share a cellphone that residents could call.

"There's one phone number that I need to remember and call and every time a shift changes that phone gets handed to the lead person who answers that phone," she said.

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An administration spokeswoman said Mayor Dennis P. Williams appreciates Freel's suggestion and invites him to discuss it with the police department.

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