ACLU of DE and one mother calling for the end of Operation Safe Streets
DELAWARE – Operation Safe Streets works in the first state to keep communities safer by monitoring probationers.
Sharee Congo is calling for justice. She says one of the issues is the confusion when OSS enters the home because of uniforms not being properly labeled. “Whoever these people are inside my house, all I can think of is the safety of my kids. I just felt so violated, I had so many different feelings, I just felt helpless, I felt angry, hurt,” says Sharee Congo, who had her house raided by OSS.
The ACLU of Delaware is backing her and calling out the mistreatment of Operation Safe Streets.
“I didn’t have no way to get to them to protect them so I was thinking we’re all getting ready to die, we’re all getting ready to get killed,” says Congo.
That’s how Sharee Congo was feeling when her home was raided by Operation Safe Streets (OSS) following her son’s suspected probation violation. OSS is a program that partners with the DOC and other local police department’s to carry out its mission. “Safe street probation officers is to assist the caseload officer and work that they may not be able to do at that time. And in turn as the Street Crimes Unit are goal is the reduction of violent crime, firearm offenses, and drug offenses,” says Master Corporal Jacob Rankin with Dover Police Department.
This allows the task force to complete fieldwork, making visits to probationers’ homes. A visit that Congo believes turned ugly: “Mom, mom help me, they hurting me, mom, they hurting me, so now I’m screaming crying, please somebody help my son, call the ambulance I don’t want my son to die on my floor, says Congo.
The people that are called to protect and serve, Congo feels they acted like monsters when they raided her home. “He picks him up, slams him into the dresser, he slams him into a wall and then he slams him into the ground, so now he’s punching my son. Punching my son in his chest, hitting him in his face and everything,” says Congo.
Dover Police say they will continue the operation because it has proven to keep streets in the first state safer by 24 percent. “At the beginning of October, we are at 32 shootings, also as of last year October we had 42 shootings so right now because of the efforts, department-wide from street crimes and operation safe streets we’re at a 24 percent reduction in shootings,” says Master Corporal Rankin.
The ACLU of Delaware has stepped in – and with their continued efforts – they would like to see an end to Operation Safe Streets.” The way operation safe streets go about handling their job and doing their job because they truly violate the rights of many’s constitutional rights and there really is no oversight to operation safe streets to ensure they follow some type of policy and procedure,” says Haneef Salaam, the Campaign for Smart Justice Manager with the ACLU of Delaware.
Mother Sharee Congo wants justice. She says it’s almost 2 years and she and her family are still haunted by this incident.
The ACLU of Delaware wants Operation Safe Streets to end because they believe the department of corrections needs to change its approach. That is a social services approach.
The Delaware State Police also uses OSS and says the operation has been effective from 2019 through 2021.
“These units seized more than 990 illegal guns and more than 407,000 grams (897 pounds) of illegal drugs and narcotics. Every illegal gun that is taken off the street and every gram of drug that won’t make its way into the hands of a child or an adult who struggles with addiction reduces the risk of violence or an unfortunate overdose death. The record shows that the overwhelming number of arrests made through these activities are for new and serious criminal offenses, including weapons charges that pose a clear threat to our children and families,” says Senior Corporal Leonard DeMalto. DSP will continue to support the efforts of the Governor’s Task Force to curtail the violence and drugs that burden communities.
The ACLU of Delaware is looking for people to share their stories regarding any police violence or mistreatment. “I am hoping that by uplifting the stories of Sharee and others through Operation Safe Streets report that we are able to bring a level of transparency and accountability to the department of corrections and probation and parole involvement,” says Salaam.
You can share that information with them on their website as they are now calling on local elected officials to take action.