Civic leaders express frustration over crime

By Tom Lehman 1:10am, January 8, 2014 - Updated 10:40pm, January 8, 2014
VIDEO: Ken Briscoe, Director of Communications and Cultural Affairs, and Washington Heights Community Association President Larry Smith discuss the cluster meeting.
Civic leaders from Wilmington's northern neighborhoods expressed frustration over gun violence and drug activity at a cluster meeting hosted by the Williams administration on Tuesday.

WDEL's Tom Lehman has more...

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Among the approximately 50 civic association and community organization members present at the city's Emergency Operations Center in Southbridge was Larry Smith, who heads the Washington Heights Community Association.

Smith called the meeting a "good first step," and said he wants to see more communication and cooperation between with the administration and residents.

"Learning to listen to others is hard sometimes because you may feel that they're criticizing instead as opposed to giving you constructive feedback," he said.

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The meeting was intended to promote information sharing and introduce a strong neighborhoods plan, said Ken Briscoe, the city's Director of Communications and Cultural Affairs.

"Since it does cross neighborhood boundaries and it does cross civic association boundaries, it's best for us to get everyone in the room and really introduce it to them at their own level," Briscoe said.

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James Nolan, a former Wilmington police officer and associate professor at West Virginia University, discussed the strong neighborhoods strategy.

Mayor Dennis Williams was in attendance but left to address a shooting on N. Broom Street that happened while the meeting was underway according to an administration spokeswoman.

It was the first shooting that occurred during night, police said.

At the meeting's onset, Williams reiterated support for Police Chief Christine Dunning but also said Wilmington's crime wasn't just a "mayor problem" but a societal issue.

"We are now facing a problem that we have to dig in, try to root out the root cause and stop this problem. It has been dumped on our laps," he said.

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