Responses to questions posed at Long Neck town hall meeting on crime

Editor’s Note: Following is a response from State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn and State Rep. Ruth Briggs King to constituents and their questions posed during a town hall meeting on crime in the Oak Orchard/Long Neck area in mid-May.   

To our Long Neck/ Oak Orchard Neighbors,

Thank you for your continued support of efforts to address issues of concern in the Long Neck and Oak Orchard area. We were grateful to have the opportunity to gather at Long Neck Elementary School and discuss solutions. We are pleased to provide answers to the questions submitted that evening. Thank you to the Delaware State Police and the Sussex County Council for their input.

Sincerely,

19th District State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn

37th District State Rep. Ruth Briggs King

QUESTIONS FROM THE LONG NECK MEETING

(Responses in italic type)

Did anyone ever compare the number of homes revenue now compared with the revenue when the last state trooper was assigned to this area?

Sussex County Response: Sussex County has not done that comparison. Sussex County does not have information pertaining to the time and location of Delaware State Police assignments.

What year was the State Police presence increased in Sussex? What was the population then and what is it now?

Sussex County Response: Sussex County contracted with the State of Delaware to provide additional Delaware State Police trooper coverage in the County in 1994. At that time, the State Base for Delaware State Police was 96 troopers and the population was 124,000. The county and the state have added troopers to Sussex County throughout the life of the contract. The most recent report shows there are 193 troopers allocated in Sussex and the population is approximately 220,251 (U.S. Census for 2016).

How can we help with police morale? Maybe lunch?

State Sen. Gerald Hocker addresses the large turnout at the May 15 town hall meeting on crime in the Long/Oak Orchard area. In back are State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, Delaware State Police Sgt. Richard Bratz and State Rep. Ruth Briggs King.

Thank you very much however not necessary. We really appreciate the kind gesture.

Please attend our Community Café’s and community events.

Where can we access self-defense courses?

DSP does not offer any at this time. Please contact the Community Outreach Unit.

In future planning, we will incorporate this into our Citizens Police Academy with certified DSP instructors.

Would the legislature consider funding the start-up of a county police department?

Sussex County Response: Sussex County does not support the creation of a county police department. In 2012, it was estimated to cost $50 million to operate a county police force similar to New Castle County. The result would be a 379-percent tax increase for Sussex County tax payers.

Why don’t they have a sub-station for the police?

Each of our patrol officers has resources in their patrol vehicles to conduct their work from any remote site and have opportunity to utilize the municipal departments.

How can we get better protection for individual communities?

Be alert and contact 9-1-1 if anything suspicious is seen “See something Say something” set up crime watch and utilize Nextdoor.com. Reach out to the community outreach unit at Troop 7 644-5020 for assessment.

Have you been able to identify the root cause of recent crimes? This may lead to the solution of the problem.

In 2016 the root cause from multiple burglaries can largely be attributed to the heroin epidemic.

How do we go about organizing community watch programs?

Please contact DSP Community Outreach Unit at the Troop. Social media is an option. Talk to your neighbors and attend crime watch meetings within the county. Speak to your local police agency and/or speak with the criminal lieutenants.

How many troopers in Sussex are dedicated to crime prevention verses traffic enforcement?

All Troopers enforce criminal and traffic laws.

Why is difficult to receive responses to my calls when I contact Detectives at DSP?

If your case is active and ongoing a response maybe delayed due to the number of investigative steps conducted interviews etc. people interviewed may not be readily available and may take some time. Troopers have shift rotations, schedules, training etc…

What can be done about abandoned houses in our neighborhood?

Sussex County Response: The Sussex County Constable and Planning and Zoning Department can investigate abandoned houses as property maintenance rules still apply to these types of properties. Please call (302) 855-7819.

With increase in businesses and developments in our area, this has to lead to population increase and more crime. Is there something being done about safe evacuation routes?

Sussex County Response: The State Department of Transportation is the lead agency for evacuation routes. Input is received from the Delaware Emergency Management Agency and Sussex County Emergency Management.

How can the Sheriff’s Office be utilized in this situation?

Sussex County Response: In Delaware, the sheriff and sheriff deputies are not law enforcement officers and do not have arrest powers and therefore cannot participate in police activities.

Please explain the funding for the 44 DSP that the County Council is funding?

Sussex County Response: Since the agreement in 1994, Sussex County has provided funds directly to the State of Delaware for additional Delaware State Police Troopers. In recent years, the state paid one-half of the cost of 44 troopers and the county paid one-half of the cost of 44 troopers. For the FY2018 budget, the county has been asked to pay the “true cost” of 22 troopers which equals $2,936,245, a $678,866 increase. To date, the county has not approved its FY2018 budget.

Exactly how many DSP officers are in Sussex and what areas are they assigned to by Troop?

Due to Operational Security concerns, we do not make this information public.

Can we have patrolling police presence rather than sitting at one location? Criminals will know where they are.

This is done on a rotation decided by each Troop Administration based on operational needs.

What steps do we as homeowners take with children to prevent crime from coming to our home?

Watch your children and be vigilant to your surrounding and report anything suspicious.

What can we do to get more police presence in our area?

Case by case basis, our resources are directed to the affected areas and will also patrol all areas in our jurisdiction.

Will crime maps be updated soon?

It is updated on a continuing basis as the reports are approved. It has six months of rolling data.

Do we have a citizen police academy? If so, how does one sign up?

Yes, please follow our DSPnewsroom.com, Delaware State Police web page and our Delaware State Police Facebook page.

Why can’t other municipal agencies help patrol our area?

They can be called out of their jurisdiction to assist however they are assigned to their town boundaries.

How can we get the Community Liaison meeting started back up in our area?

Contact DSP community outreach at Troop 7 at 644-5020 or Troop 4 at 856-5850.

Every real estate transaction pays 3 percent transfer tax. Where is that money going and what can be diverted to police?

Sussex County Response: The realty transfer tax (RTT) is set by the State of Delaware General Assembly. The current rate is 3 percent with 1 ½ percent going to the State and 1 ½ percent going to each county. In Sussex County, every RTT dollar budgeted in the General Fund in FY2018 will be spent on public safety. The county’s FY2018 budget proposal includes $2.9M for the Delaware State Police contract (a $678,866 increase) and $575,000 in law enforcement grants provided to Sussex County towns. In addition to law enforcement funding, the county’s largest expenditure for public safety is its operation of the county Paramedic Department, which costs $15,473,109.

Why wasn’t information made public as to whether the crimes in our area were separate incidents or these incidents involve the same suspects/groups of suspects instead of no news?

Active and ongoing cases dictate only information will be disseminated as it becomes available so cases will not be negatively impacted.

What can businesses and property owners do that would be the effective in deterring crime?

Report to suspicious activity to 911, close on time and follow safety tips published online or on our web page, on our social media platform and use common sense as it relates to deterring crime.

Is there a way to set up an anonymous tip line?

Call Crimestoppers and ask to be anonymous 1-800-TIP-3333

Why can’t DSP patrol the Pot Nets communities?

We conduct patrols in those areas currently.

I understand that DSP Troop 7 and sometimes Troop 4 provide coverage of the non-incorporated areas of Long Neck. Who has ultimate responsibility? Delaware State Police?

Do you believe that DSP should be handling community law enforcement as well as intense traffic/highway enforcement of this area? Troop 7’s enforcement of Rt. 1 is a major distraction from the Long Neck area. The Delaware State Police enforces both traffic and criminal laws.

Can we have more police presence around businesses at closing times?

If you would like to please contact Troop Administration for special duty officer assignment at business.

How can we be notified when the search helicopter is out?

Operational security for active and ongoing cases does not allow for this.

What non-emergency number can we call when we see something suspicious?

Please Call 911 and advise the nature of the call.

When we hear the search helicopter, do we turn our outside lights on?

That is a personal preference.

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