'Operation Pressure Point' launches in Wilmington

March 29, 2011 2:56:28 PM PDT
Delaware state troopers will patrol Wilmington's roughest neighborhoods with local officers as part of a yearlong initiative to stem violence in the city.

The initiative, dubbed Operation Pressure Point, was announced Tuesday at police headquarters.

The governor and the top law enforcement brass announced that starting this weekend, Wilmington police will be joined by ten state troopers to patrol high crime hot spots.

Residents of neighborhoods, like the West Side, say they need all the help they can get.

"That is excellent, we need that, because my grandchildren can't come outside," said Charmaine Jackson of Wilmington. "People are afraid for their lives."

The initiative will also include checks on city bars, liquor stores and after-hours clubs by Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement agents and curfew checks on probationers by Probation and Parole and Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families officers.

"For those people in this state who are committing violent crimes, using guns and committing robberies - we are going to come for you," said Lewis Schiliro, Delaware's Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security.

The stepped up enforcement comes on the heels of last year's record murder rate, 27 killed and 146 shootings.

But, even though they welcome the extra protection, some residents are worried about the presence of state police who don't know the community.

"They're going to come with their indifferent attitude, nonchalant, like 'We're just here because we're told to be here,'" said Xaviare Mills of Wilmington.

"It's like they come with these attitudes because we live in the inner city, they think that we're all the same," said DanNaya Rollins of Wilmington.

So far this year, violent crime is actually down below last year's rate. With this effort, the state is hoping to make it a steady trend.

"We have no illusions that this task is going to be easy or that results will be immediately visible. This is not a quick strike, one hit and we are done," said Gov. Jack Markell.

The deployment of extra troops in Wilmington is just phase one. The multi-agency approach used here will eventually be deployed statewide.