State of the police department reveals improvement
Dover police had a year of challenges in 2017, including the process of finding the next permanent chief, a job that eventually went to Marvin Mailey. The department is now sharing its report for the year, with noticable improvements in investigations into major crimes.
Folks are saying these are the fruits of the city's work to engage the community, and their efforts to buckle down on crime.
Dover saw 870 less complaints in 2017 compared to the previous year, with drops in Grade A crimes by 6.8 percent, and a 16.9 percent decrease in violent crimes, including murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
"Our community policing initiatives are working, and the statistics show that the public is becoming, has signed on to make our community safer," said Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen.
When solving crimes, Dover was well above national average in multiple areas. Dover cleared violent crime cases in 73 percent of cases, whereas the 2016 national average sat at 48 percent. Dover also solved 36 percent of property crimes, including burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson, compared to the national average of 23 percent.
"That in itself speaks volumes, because I think it tells a lot of people that maybe Dover isn't the place we want to go because if we do something, eight out of ten of us are going to get caught," said Dover councilman Bill Ware.
Christiansen says the drop in crime rate can be attributed to the department's work to get the community involved, and the proactive role officers are taking to keep watch in the community.
"When you're a proactive police department it sends a message, not only to the citizens that your serve, but the people who would want to do these crimes, that they're not going to be tolerated and they need to move elsewhere."
There are still areas for improvement. A number of folks we spoke with mentioned drivers in the state capital. Christiansen acknowledged this, saying the city would take care of the issue as they get to them, but their main focus will continue to be keeping a vigilant eye and a zero-tolerance policy on violent crime.
The Dover Police force has seen some recent turnover, including hiring Marvin Mailey as Police Chief just last spring.
There could be more turnover on the way, and it is a concern for the city. Dover has 96 of 101 officer spaces filled, with five of their nine authorized cadet spots full as well.
Vacancies could become an issue in two years, because there are as many as 28 officers eligible for retirement. Those potential vacancies could include the chief's position.
"If the eventuality comes that a lot of these folks decide to exit and go to other careers, well we need to be prepared for that," said Christiansen. "So we need to up our authorized strength or just have people ready to go, test it out, and ready to drop into the academy. That's going to be a decision we're going to have to make over the course of the upcoming budget process."
Dover will discuss a budget increase in fiscal year 2019 for more officers. If you are interested in a career in law enforcement, you can log on to doverpolice.org.