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June 13, 2003     Cape Gazette
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June 13, 2003

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8 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, June 13 - June 19, 2003 Le;ters Milton: it's time to take a step back It's time to take a step back. Over recent weeks there have been far too many out- cries from both sides of the fence regarding the alleged overzealousness, on the part of Milton police. Both sides have spoken quite openly and forcibly about their experiences and viewpoints in the press, town meetings and local meeting places. Before this matter continues to get out of hand, both sides need to take step back and approach this sit- uation with great care, discretion and con- trol. There is enough blame to go around for everyone on this matter. It's time for balance and moderation, moderation and more moderation.Yes, there have been a considerable number of stories of townspeople who unfortunately had traumatizing experiences with the 13o_ lice department resulting in torment, humil- iation and anger. Being arrested, hand- cuffed and shackled to a bench is absolute- ly not a laughing matter nor should it be discounted. However, police officers must concern themselves with their own safety and those people around them. Sometimes situations require rapid assessments of the situation at hand. The resulting measures taken by the police might not always bode well with the public. That said, there is a middle, reasonable ground where police officers and towns- people can ask themselves "Can't we all just get along?". Rodney King, an African American, made this very comment to the entire community during the L.A. riots of 1993, a violent community outburst in re- sponse to the acquittal of the police officers who had beaten him following his arrest. While the concerns raised by Miltonians by no rheums rise, on either side, to those in the L.A. incident, King's comment is still apropos in urging us to work together rea- sonably and respectfully to keep the town safe without intimidating people. The last thing we need in our town during its peak of modem growth and visibility is a public dissatisfaction festering between its citizens and its police force. Milton is one of the fastest growing towns in one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. Peo- ple are less likely to embrace Milton as their new home if this discormeet is not re- solved soon. I had the opponity to meet with Chief Phillips 30 seconds into his administration as I went to the police station to personally introduce myself when be-picked up his badge and revolver. I welcomed him into to the town and told him I looked forward to getting to know him and offered any assis- tance he might need during his transition. I also shared with him recently, that I failed to extend that same courtesy to any of his new hires over the past year and was em- barrassed to admit that I did not know any of his officers as well as I had known previ- ous ones. I told him that becanse the force had been very fluid over the past three years I saw no reason to extend myself as I had no confidence his force would remain intact and that I would reintroducing my- self to a new officer every other month. Chief Phillips has managed to stabilize the force and we in fact have officers who have been on board for the past year or so. Prior to this recent fracas that has managed to oc- cupy the minds of many, I shared with Chief Phillips the need for police officers to sensitize themselves to the community they serve and get to know its town folk. Not all police forces are made up of seasoned offi- cers who will know in every scenario how to tactically and strategically execute a task in a smooth and seamless way. Once some of the officers mature in their jobs, the town will see fewer wrinkles and warm up to the success the force is current- ly enjoying with its crime reduction pro- gram. Conversely, the residents of Milton need to get to know their officers as well. Fortunately, Milton will be placing some officers on bicycles and rm confident once that takes place, the officers' visibility with- in the community will serve everyone well. I cannot help but wonder what would have happened with these recent cases if both parties knew one another prior to each in- fraction. Maybe the officer would not felt as threatened ff he knew the party he was stopping. No one will ever really know. What we do know is good policing is a rela- tionship-building business. The police force needs to get out into the community and get to know its citizens and their daily activities. Conversely, the com- munity has a responsibility to reciprocate by introducing themselves to the police and attending public meetings. This should re- suit in better understanding and an ex- change of ideas to meet everyone's needs in an appropriate manner. Isn't'it dine for both sides to focus on building and restoring good faith and not laying blame or taking sides? Defensive posturing and wars of words from both sides will create greater factions not solve problems. As Rodney King said, "Can't we all just get along?" Rich Moonblatt Managing partner RecruitCom Washington De First person account of Milton incident Chief William Phillips' account of my two-bour detention by the Milton police while I was doing a documentary for WS- CL ("Barefootin'," June 6-12) is mislead- ing or false in several ways. And the unique Delaware law that fosters substan- dam policework must be reformed. Chief Phillips begins his account by re- peating false or prejudicial remarks about my dress and demeanor ("shoving a micro- phone in their face," "smelled of alcohol,:" "wasn't dressed as a news reporter, .... he was loitering") apparently gleaned from anonymous sources. But then the chief adds two, more seri- ous, accusations. The first is that I had been asking "inappropriate" questions of two minor girls, and that I "even admitted" that I had been drinking. Either accusation could have easily - al- most immediately - been proved false. But neither the arresting officer nor the police chief did so. As to the offense of "inappropriate ques- tions," I had just finished taping my inter- views when the arresting officer, Ismael Tortes, arrived. Not only did Officer Torres fail to question the girls, but- as can be heard on tape - the girls even asked if they could leave, and left. Later, when I offered the police an oppor- tunity to listen to my tape, they showed lit- tle interest. Days later, when I asked Chief Phillips why Officer Torres never questioned the minors, I was told that Tortes had reported the girls had left before he had arrived. The second accusation, that I "admitted" to have been drinking, is also false. It is in fact a complete contradiction of what I did say directly to Chief Phillips. After breathalyzing my wife (who did have a glass of wine at dinner, whose alco- hol blood level was apparently barely de- tectable), Chief Phillips stuck his head into the back of the police cruiser that I had been locked in, hands cuffed behind my back. Phillip says to me: "We know you've been drinking." I reply, "No. I absolutely have not been drinking." Chief Phillips had just breathalyzed my wife. He could have breathalyzed me right then and there. But he did not. Accusations of drinking, accusations of corrupting the morals of minors, even accu- sations that I was impersonating a reporter, all could have been easily dispelled without detaining me. Instead, the police searched me, my belongings, my audio equipment, my car. They held me in handcuffs for two hours, without any explanation as to why I was being detained. Even now, falsehoods continue to be re- peated. What's worse, these and ther falsehoods may be enshrined in a central police database that I am not permitted to see. When I made a written request of Chief Phillips to examine his report, he told me I would have to sue the department. But the real problem here is not the be- havior of a particular police department. The underlying problem is a unique Delaware law that fosters substandard policing. It is a law that must be changed. Anywhere else in America, the police would have had to act far more swiftly to dispel their suspicions. Anywhere, but Delaware. We need to reform this peculiar Delaware law that essentially encourages substandard policework, and that allows the police to file a secret report that can only be exam- ined through a lawsuit. Bruce Schimmel Milton Canalfront building looks like Taj Mahal I have been attending the Canal Front Park meetings ever since they started and I was always under the impression we were going to build a nice little park for Lewes. After this last meeting, it seems we are building the Taj Mahal of Lewes. I would ask the committee to consider how another of Lewes' great assets evolved, i.e., the Lewes Public Library. For years, it was housed in part of City Hall. Because of growth in use a building was built in Stango Park. After more years of growth in use, two wings were added to its present size - what I would call planned growth. Would it not make sense to replace the sewer line that runs through the park, cover the area with about three to four feet of top- soil, plant grass and a few shrubs, build a few walkways, build a boardwalk along the bulkhead and place six or eight benches around the area and see how the park is used and what needs to be added? Presently grant monies are scarce or non- existent and the economy isn't that great, so why not build for the present, plan for the future, and build in the future for the needs of the times. Howard H. Seymour Lewes Article redirected focus of Anglers Rest issues I am writing this letter because a quote was incorrectly credited to me about re- moving Irish flags painted on a building in an article from the June 6 Cape Gazette. The article was in reference to the Re- hoboth Beach Anglers Rest's new owner- ship's request for a liquor license. I did not make this statement and did not feel that just a retraction in the paper was enough. The remark that was attributed to me was made by another individual attending the hearing who was trying to draw out an an- swer about the renovations that would be made to the outside of the establishment. Even more upsetting to me was that the re- mark was portrayed in such a way as to make it offensive to people of Irish descent. I would like to say a few things of my own about the heating. I own Inner Reflections Day Spa, located next door to the Anglers Rest. I attended the hearing, along with many neighbors, to find out what actions future owner Shirley Herndon intended to take to correct some problems that my neighbors and I have been experiencing. The problems include littering of beer bottles and cans in our yards, vandalizing of our property, tres- passing, fighting and parking on our prop- erties. These problems appear to stem from people being overserved alcohol, underage people being served, people being served after hours and people leaving the premises with alcohol. I wanted to make sure that the new own- ers would address these issues. Over the last few years, I have had to clean up hu- man feces, martini glasses, broken and un- broken bottles, needles and condoms from my property. I have often had to repair damage to my property; I have had to have many cars towed from my driveway and lawn; I have been flashed and cursed by drunk patrons leaving the bar while tres- passing through my property. I have per- sonally witnessed people leaving the bar with drinks in hand, enter their cars, guzzle the rest of their drink and toss the bottle in- to my yard before driving away. I understand that a bar is located next door and will continue to operate. But I am concerned that the pattern of turning a blind eye to these problems will continue under the new ownership. The fact that the soon- to-be new owners appear to deny that these problems exist is absurd. Those of us who have to tolerate Anglers Rest's patrons are simply exhausted. Again, just to set the record straight, I said nothing in the hearing about anything Irish. I merely asked questions directly re- lated to the problems outlined above. For example, when I learned that there would be no wait staff outside after 9 p.m., I asked how the bar would prevent people from leaving the premises with their alcoholic beverages. I also asked about their plans to resolve the insufficient parking and their plans for after 9 p.m., when food-service stops. The article upset me in that it dis- tracted the focus from the issues of the hearing. Janie Maedler Inner Reflections Day Spa Rehoboth Beach Dewey mayor responds In response to an unsigned mailing ad- dressed to the property owners of Dewey Beach, criticizing the present mayor and commissioners for not reapplying for the Blue Wave environmental award. This particular organization requires a fee of $2,500, plus $100 for shipping and handling to be eligible for certification. Financial responsibility is this adminis- tration's commitment to the people. Patricia Wright Mayor, Dewey Beach r lrlllT-T -*T-'V' 7 11rrlllWim