Dover Police Department releases their Annual Police Report for 2020
DOVER, Del.- Homicides, gang activity, and COVID-19, these are just some of the challenges listed in the 2020 Dover Police Department Annual Report that was recently release .
“We definitely had a year with significant change 56 and we almost had to literally redefine our business,” Dover Police Chief, Thomas A. Johnson Jr., said.
Like other businesses and organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the normal operations of the Dover Police Department, including getting supplies and interacting with the community.
” How do you do that when you’re literally in a lock down environment and even if you’re not in lock down, you have to be socially distanced, masked up, trying not to touch anything,” Chief Johnson said.
While the police department had to figure out strategies to still do their job during the pandemic, they were seeing an increase in homicides.
Chief Johnson said the uptick in homicides they had was a late 2019 to early 2020 phenomenon.
Dover seeing 9 homicides, the most they’ve seen since 2015 when they had 7.
“If you’re on pace to set a record for homicides, for your community, there’s a lot of words you can use but alarming is one of them because if it’s not setting off an alarm you’re not paying attention,” Chief Johnson said.
We are told with some minor exceptions, the 2020 incidents could be traced to a 2019 surge in gang activity.
“The gang problem had reached its pinnacle at that time, and it was creating tragedy after tragedy, after tragedy and that required bold law enforcement intervention,” Chief Johnson said.
Recognizing the need to follow up the enforcement effort with prevention programs, the Department is preparing a plan to address the conditions that led to the gang involvement.
One of those goals is to increase youth outreach.
“That’s us doing our due diligence to try and get out in front of a problem that if we don’t do anything could come and visit us again,” Chief Johnson said.
And building that bridge between the community and law enforcement, is something that some see as positive.
“Not just have the young people understand them, but also for them to build understanding with the community and what the community wants and how they can be best responsive to their needs,” Mike Brickner, Executive Director of ACLU Delaware, said.
The Chief said that a key initiative of the police department in 2020 was the development of the Police Chief’s Advisory Committee.
Where the advisory committee and the stakeholders, sit down regularly to learn from one another and talk about policing.
The Chief also said another thing he is proud of is the completion of a renovation project for their Emergency Communications Center.
He added that moving forward he is paying attention to the effects of COVID conditions, and how that might impact mental health and public safety.