Multiple Agency Effort to Fight Violence in Wilmington; Gun Violence Reduction Initiative Launches
Posted on 07/10/2012 9:24 am
To help address the recent rise in gun violence affecting some communities within the city of Wilmington, major law enforcement agencies in Delaware are working together to launch a special gun violence reduction effort with a collective focus on the most violent offenders.
The Governor, Mayor, County Executive, Attorney General and United States Attorney have committed to pulling together the collective resources of the respective agencies within their charge, including the Wilmington Police Department, Delaware State Police, Attorney General’s Office, New Castle County Police Department, the State Department of Correction Probation and Parole, the State Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services Probation and Parole and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. As the result, law enforcement officers will be working together strategically and tactically in a coordinated and orchestrated way to try to reduce violence incidents in the city of Wilmington.
On the law enforcement side, agencies are developing operational plans that include intelligence gathering and targeted investigations. This involves a coordinated launch of undercover operations/targeted investigations. Agencies are technically enhancing their ability to share critical intelligence information, including immediate data entry of Wilmington Department’s historical intelligence into the Delaware Statewide Intelligence Database (DSIS), accessible by law enforcement on a 24/7 basis statewide. Investigations will target violent offenders who represent a significant threat to the community.
In the community, the State Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families will be loaning a Prevention and Community Coordinator to oversee city-wide prevention activities for the summer. This individual will report to the Cabinet Secretary for the State Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families and will coordinate with law enforcement, community members and the Delaware Criminal Justice Council.
In the meantime, community center hours and activities are expanding at ten centers, offering educational and computer-based activities, sports, trips to local attractions, cooking and healthy eating classes, swimming, self-esteem and other prevention-oriented classes as well as volunteer activities throughout the community. This includes: Hilltop Lutheran Neighborhood Center, West End Neighborhood House, Latin American Community Center, Clarence Fraim Boys & Girls Club, Police Athletic League of Wilmington, Walnut Street YMCA, Girls Inc’s Dennison Branch, Neighborhood House and Hicks Anderson Community Center. Extended hours vary by center and remain in effect through the summer.
For the second summer in a row, the State Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF) is funding the Wilmington City Curfew Center, which began the week of June 18th at the Walnut Street YMCA. The Curfew Center uses a community-based model of services to offer family and teen programming (parenting classes, teens-at-risk instruction, etc.) as alternatives to street gangs, or involvement with drugs and guns.
Wilmington’s curfew laws are being enforced during the summer months, and youth who are found in violation of city curfew, along with their families, are connected with the Walnut Street YMCA to participate in services aimed at engaging them in activities that keep them safe and off city streets after hours. For children aged 13-17, the curfew is in effect from 10 p.m. – 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday nights, and Midnight-6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. For youth 12 and under, curfew times are 9 p.m. – 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday nights, and 10 p.m. – 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday night.
As a result of the curfew center program last year, nearly 200 youth were brought in for a first-time warning. Of those, about 10 received a second-time summons, showing a 95% success rate in keeping kids off the City streets at night. Similarly, there were positive outcomes through the extended-hour programming. Participating centers reported an average of 30 to 80 youth participating each night the programming was offered. So far this summer, 48 youth have been brought into the center.
Additionally, the Chair of the Criminal Justice Council, Lt. Governor Mathew Denn, proposed to the Criminal Justice Council today help fund these efforts with the following two prong proposal. First, $50,000 will be dedicated to the law enforcement effort and to be focused on enhancing the ability of these law enforcement agencies to share intelligence information. For example, increased personnel on an overtime basis for immediate data entry, including certified intelligence analysts to enter Wilmington Police Department’s historical intelligence into the Delaware Statewide Intelligence Database (DSIS), which is accessible by law enforcement on a 24/7 basis state-wide. In addition, programmers may be retained to better utilize other data systems among various agencies. Also, some of the investigations and targeted intelligence gathering will also require undercover operations and some of these funds will be utilized for rental cars and other equipment toward that end. Second, $50,000 of funds will be dedicated to further increase access by providing additional community center hours in conjunction with the current effort through the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families. Under the proposal, the utilization of these funds will be closely monitored by the executive director of the Criminal Justice Council, with appropriate protocols established for disbursements and approvals.