A statewide effort to tackle violent crime called "Operation: Pressure Point" begins today with an initial focus on reducing gun violence in the City of Wilmington. The initiative's two concurrent phases - enforcement and investigation - each involve greater coordination between state, federal and local resources to maximize the potential impact on crime reduction.
The City was selected as the starting point for the effort after the Governor received requests from Wilmington community leaders, elected officials and the state's Black Caucus for state police resources to be dedicated to the City.
"Violent crime affects every aspect of society throughout Delaware. Kids don't learn as well, businesses don't grow as fast, and communities don't thrive in places where the fear of violent crime flourishes. This task is neither easy nor quick, but the goal of saving lives is critical and clear," Governor Jack Markell said. "The idea of a "pressure point' is fitting. This is a deliberate application of additional force anywhere in Delaware where it can make the greatest impact to protect public safety."
Governor Markell, et.al.At Wilmington City Police Headquarters for the announcement, Governor Markell joined dozens of police and public officials, including Attorney General Beau Biden, Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker and City Police Chief Michael J. Szczerba, who each pledged their support and participation in the effort.
"Criminals throughout Delaware must know that we will not rest until they are prosecuted for their crimes and unable to pose a significant threat to public safety," said Biden.
The most immediate and visible impact of the effort will be the April 1st deployment of ten Delaware State Police Troopers to Wilmington to help bolster local law enforcement by patrolling crime "hot spots" for approximately a year. The City police department will determine where the Troopers can be best used to help reduce gun violence and assist City efforts.
"We welcome the additional resources and commitment by the state to help in this important and ongoing effort," Mayor Baker said. "Chief Sczcerba and his officers take very seriously their commitment to protect and serve the residents of our great city and will make sure that this additional policing assistance is put to work where it will have the greatest impact."
Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security Lew SchiliroGovernor Markell assigned Delaware's Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security Lew Schiliro the task of developing and coordinating a statewide plan to reduce violent crime. Schiliro served for 25 years with the F.B.I, where he helped lead their New York City field office. There, he also served as Commander of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force and helped supervise, manage, and lead over 2,300 Special Agents and support personnel.
"The Governor made clear we needed to work with people across the state to develop a plan that would work statewide. This plan is the result of looking at best practices across the country and weeks of discussion among community leaders, residents, law enforcement, and numerous state and local agencies on how we could, together, make the greatest impact," Schiliro said.
"Operation: Pressure Point" will target in its Phase 1 (Enforcement) a more effective and efficient deployment of police resources in high-crime areas to provide a visible deterrent to gun violence in those areas. In addition to the State Police resources now made available to assist City police, Phase 1's enforcement elements include enhanced Compliance Checks by the state Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement (DATE), which recognizes that alcohol, drugs and firearms are a combustible mix. DATE officers will coordinate with City Police to perform additional compliance checks on bars, liquor stores and after-hours clubs. These checks will help enforce the City of Wilmington's nuisance abatement law, which aligns with the Attorney General's efforts to take possession of nuisance rental properties in neighborhoods. The Office of Highway Safety will fund two additional DUI check points in Wilmington to increase presence and visibility around these efforts.
Operation: Pressure Point AnnouncementAs DATE and the Office of Highway Safety work to increase law enforcement's visibility and effectiveness in "hot spot" areas, enhanced Monitoring of High-Risk Offenders by both the Division of Probation & Parole (P&P) and the Department of Children, Youth & Their Families, including unannounced curfew checks on probationers and youth offender checks, will help increase law enforcement's oversight of high-risk offenders.
Phase 2's long-term intelligence and investigation efforts recognize that better coordination of city, county and statewide crime data should also help create more effective targeting of long-term crime prevention efforts. As other jurisdictions have done (for example, Compstat in New York and "intelligence-led policing" in New Jersey and Philadelphia), Delaware's law enforcement officers are gathering data on crime pockets and trends throughout the state to identify high-risk offenders, gangs and drug-trafficking organizations. Investigative resources will then target, develop evidence on, and prosecute cases against these persons and groups, drawing help from agencies who have offered to participate in the Phase 2 initiative, including the Attorney General's Office; Wilmington Police; Delaware State Police; the U.S. Attorney's Office and other federal agencies including FBI, DEA, ATF, and US Marshalls.