Bernat is proposing that the city hire at least six cadets, with an emphasis on bringing in local college students who are majoring in criminal justice. The cadets would be given up to three weeks of training from Dover police instructors, as well as additional, supervised on-the-beat experience. Bernat said each cadet would patrol downtown, including the city library, for about 20 hours per week, including weekends. The cadets would be uniformed and carry all necessary police equipment, with the exception of firearms, he said. Read more: http://www.doverpost.com/article/20141203/News/141209924#ixzz3NRfIfhEsWith its emphasis on local college students majoring in criminal justice, the program will have higher standards than the seasonal police hired by the Beach towns. Critics, including the ACLU which seems to find fault with every move to make Dover safer, focus on the minimum age of 18 to be a part of the program. 18 is old enough to be in the military. It is old enough to be a seasonal police officer. It is old enough to vote, buy property, get married, and own a long gun. The likelihood of many 18 year olds being hired is small, but that depends upon the pool of applicants. It is more likely that Juniors and Seniors would want to get an opportunity to break into policing beyond the summer. The cadets will get 3 weeks of training before they even go out including diversity training then appropriate supervision afterwards. They will free experienced officers to deal with more serious issues than walking around the business district. The real question is why do we need more patrols? Cameras have contributed to an amazingly high closing case rate. Crime is down in Dover each of the last 3 years. The answer is that it is not down enough. Downtown business people need people not to be annoyed by nuisance crime and having a visible presence that can radio in the early indications of serious crimes is golden. With crime as it is with corruption, sunshine is the best disinfectant. The more visible law enforcement presence, the lower the incidence of crime. If they see something, full time officers will be there literally in 2 minutes. The average response time in Dover is 2 and one half minutes. I have found the community response to be overwhelmingly positive to this idea. As Chief Bernat said, there is no downside. Dover also needs more full time police as part of a comprehensive crime strategy. Two community centers will be opening in 2015. We will tackle economic inclusion. I want to encourage private programs that teach people to build strong families. Security, however, is a basic requirement for economic growth. We need to maximize our reach, deploy our resources appropriately, and spend our money wisely. This is one such step.
A program allowing the Dover Police to recruit part time “cadets” to join the community police program and add patrols to the downtown business district is likely to pass Dover City Council in the January 12, 2015 meeting. Background information is here.