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August 15, 1997     Cape Gazette
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August 15, 1997
 

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14 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, August 15 - August 21, 1997 Delaware's community policing movement proves successful By Kerry Kester Community policing - an inte- gral part of Gov. Tom Carper's Sussex County Strong Communi- ties Initiative - is effective. Previ- ously disenfranchised communi- ties work with each other, with the police and with agencies to im- prove the quality of life for those who reside in areas typically plagued by the problems associat- ed with abject poverty. "We will rise like the sun" was the motto embraced by members of the Strong Communities Initia- tive (SCI) who noted the marked improvements in their communi- ties since the initiative began a lit- tle more than three years ago, dur- ing a festival on Saturday, Aug. 9 at Selbyville Middle School. Each of the eight Sussex County communities in the initiative were represented, and activities includ- ed picnic games, basketball com- petition, pony rides and a barbe- cue. Additionally, service and community resource organiza- tions set up booths to offer useful information on health and social service resources. Drug use is down According to members of the community organizations, one of the major success markers is the reduction in the crime rate, most of which is related to illegal drug trade. All of the eight communities - West Rehoboth (including Burton Village), Lucas Development (Milton), New Hope (Ellendale), Shockleytown, Twin Cedars, Coverdale Crossroads, Enchanted Meadows and Pepper Ridge - have police-identified open air drug markets. Each of those areas posed dan- ger not only to the residents but to those who visited the areas. Ac- cording to two Westside New Be- ginnings (WSNB) members who represent the West Rehoboth and Burton Village organization, the reduction in drug trade has im- proved safety in their neighbor- hood. "Before it [SCI] started, you couldn't even get in here," said Mary Sturdivant, youth program coordinator. Often, she said, tourists who would inadvertently find themselves lost in the com- munity would also find them- selves in perilous situations. Those involved in the drug trade would throw stones or rocks when people they didn't know entered the community, said Minnie Smith, WSNB president. "Some- Rehoboth Continued from page 13 ton nor Beel have been implicated in her death. The drug program, which will continue for at least six months, includes random drug and alcohol testing and drug education classes. Their progress will be supervised by Superior Court Judge T. Hen- ley Graves and if they "graduate," charges against them will be one even opened the car door and snatched a woman's pocketbook once," she said. Before the initiative began; po- lice often responded to calls in West Rehoboth. Tourists would get lost and drive into the commu- nity which has only one access road. It was not uncommon for the lost tourists to leave West Re- hoboth beaten or robbed. "We would have had to meet you at the end of the street to make sure you got in here safely," said Sturdivant. "Now we don't have that problem. Quite a few of those who were there then are in the federal penitentiary now." The community police not only work with residents to combat crime problems, they also coordi- nate local, state and federal agen- cies to procure help. for environ- mental-related problems. For ex- ample, community officers noti- fied Sussex County of a dilapidat- ed building in West Rehoboth, and in a short time the building was added to the county's "Dirty Dozen" list. The county demol- ished it. "I think the best thing that's happened in the neighborhood - that the policemen did - is they got rid of that condemned building at the end of Hebron Road," said Smith. "That was a place that the drug dealers hung out, but now they don't loiter there because it's open space." Team policing works The policing component of SCI has not only improved safety but has also solved mysterious crimes. One example of a recent success occurred on Wednesday, July 30, when an unidentified woman called the New Hope communi- ty's rural police liaison officer be- cause she believed she had infor- mation pertaining to a kidnapped baby. The woman had a strong and trusting relationship with a troop- er who is a member of the Delaware State Police Rural Com- munity Policing Unit. The unit, based at Troop 7, serves all eight communities. Her call to him resulted in quickly solving the kidnapping case of a two-month-old baby. The woman notified her commu- nity's liaison officer because she thought she had seen the child who was reported kidnapped from a Philadelphia woman on Tues- day, July 29. The trooper responded to the Continued on page 15 dropped, lI mey tail to complete the program, their cases could go to trial, with Felton facing a three- year sentence and Beel a six-year sentence. The Alcohol Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) could re- voke the Blue Moon's liquor li- cense if Felton were convicted of a drug charge. The ABCC re- views all licenses in the cases of convictions, although it doesn't automatically revoke the license in such cases. Kerry Kester photos Col. Alan Ellingsworth, Delaware State Police superintendent, donated two bicycles as prizes for a basketball competition at the Strong Communities Initiative annual summer pie- nic on Saturday, Aug. 9. The picnic was held at the former Selbyville Middle School and mem- bers from each of the Strong Communities participated. Shown (l-r) are Cora Miller, West Side New Beginnings, West Rehoboth; Cpl. Mike Berry and Sgt. Ed Cooke, both of the state po- lice Rural Community Policing Unit; Ellingsworth; Minnie Smith, West Side New Beginnings, West Rehobotb; Ida Dixon, Shockleytown; and Cpl. John Manship and Cpl. Lionel Maull, both of the state police Rural Community Policing Unit. Maull is shown with his children Kyle and Kaelyn, twin two-year-olds. Young people competed for the bicycles in a basketball free throw contest. The winners made the most buckets in 20 seconds. Aaron Leslie, 11, of Sel- byville, won the boys' bike, and Shellese Daniels, 12, of Frankford, won the girls' bike. At left, Sen. George H. Bunting (D-Bethany Beach) took a few minutes to visit with Col. Alan Ellingsworth, Delaware State Police super- intendent, during the Strong Communities Initiative's an- nual picnic. Bunting's legisla- tive record shows strong sup- port for crime reduction and community improvement strategies. Ellingsworth was instrumental in developing the state police's Rural Com- munity Policing Unit, which works closely with each of the eight Strong Communi- ties in Sussex County. nce Upon A Time A Unique Shop filled with Treasures for your borne, your family, and your best friends We have re-located to the Shoppes of Camelot on Highway 1 (next to The Firm) 2261299 Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 10-5 Fri. & Sat. 10-6 & Sunday 12-4 % ff Storewide Sale