Dover Citizens Get 10 More Officers

Monday night, something good happened. Dover City Council added authorization for 10 police officers. Dover will still have a slightly smaller PD than Salisbury which has around 6000 fewer residents or around 15 short of Annapolis which has about the same population. The need is real. More important than the numbers is that the Chief has an intelligent plan to restaff community policing, restart PAL, restore interactions with neighborhood watches and other anti-crime groups, and staff a street crimes unit like the one in the successful end of year trial. I support the plan. Judging from an outpouring of citizens from business people to pastors to retired residents to college students that reflected the ethnic mix of the city, the citizens strongly support it. What I was not enthusiastic about was the change in strategy to implement it. Dover has a crime problem,not a crime crisis. Crime is down 3 years in a row. Our murder rate is below the national average. We have one of the best crime clearance rates in America. I knew we had 3 candidates for Academy and support sending them immediately. I also support adding a currently certified officer immediately. We have at least two retirements coming in the next 18 months and could have a dozen (unlikely). I also supported adding officers over the next year to get us to 102 officers. I also support adding the cadet program now so we can have 6 part time officers in the business district this summer which will add the equivalent of 3 more officers at 1/4 of the cost for routine patrol of the library and business district which are also covered by scores of cameras and 2 minutes from the police station. My problem was that adding 10 officers by September with 5 being in March is a budget buster. I wanted us to plan it as part of the budget process which starts in just a few weeks. We don’t even have that many prospects. We can recruit and by March 2016 academy have all 10. That approach would allow us to absorb the new officers and keep tax hikes for public safety to a minimum. I think if I were feeling better (I came down with both food poisoning and a sinus infection 2 days before), I would have been able to more forcefully make that point. Councilman Hutchinson proposed raising taxes 5 cents to cover it, which is 2 cents more than necessary by our calculations. I proposed that the tax hike be put to referendum and dedicated to public safety. That failed 4 to 4. His tax hike failed 4 to 4. My problem is that we did the right thing, but not the right way. Rushing this through in one night instead of following the normal two weeks between committee and Council was not the best approach. I honestly can’t figure out how to pay for it. I couldn’t sleep all night Monday as my mind raced and searched for ways to afford it. I have some ideas. We will have to make some cuts and raise the property tax 6% or so, but it will get done and hopefully with minimum pain. It needed to be done. It is like a dream 3 years in the making coming true. Now to make the dream a reality.

2 thoughts on “Dover Citizens Get 10 More Officers”

  1. I like the headline and hope that it proves true. The challenge in too many cities, is that when their police force grows or upgrades its equipment it isn’t actually the citizens that are getting the new officers, it is the government officials that are getting them. When it is the government bureaucrats that have the police and not the citizens we end up with problems and protests like the ones that flared up last year.

    I am worried about the roll out, and lack of existent funding for these new officers. If they have to pay for their salary by spending their time hunting down citizens to ticket and fine than I can’t say that they are our police officers. They would belong to the system and not the people.

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