It's getting really old reading Chief Evangelous' responses to the issues downtown. For example, the officers are doing all that they can, they can't make arrests unless they see the fights happening, or there are as many officers as he can spare. Come on!
I have worked the door of Wilmington bars for quite some time now. Yes, at the door, out on the street, in the middle of it all. Not much has changed. Say the city "spares" 10 officers for any given weekend night. What you'll find is two groups of 5 officers standing in a circle talking amonst themselves, one at the intersection of Market and Front St., under the Finkelstein's awning, and one at the corner of Market and 2nd St. Occasionally a twosome will break away from the group and walk the length of the block, only to return to their "nest". When the horses are present, forget it, most of their evening is spent protected in the vacancy across from Rum Runners, unable to view either direction on Front St.
I've witnessed too many fights that, yes, the police have witnessed and failed to make arrests. Like others have said, in almost every case, the suspects are sent on their merry ways. Myself and others have questioned the officers as to why those that fought were released and they'd either ignore the request or come up with some ridiculous response. On more than one occasion I was told, "we don't want to do the paperwork."
I used to call 911 and report the fights, often before they'd occur, but I've nearly given up for two reasons. For one, there were times the 911 center wouldn't pick up the call. (Maybe not enough operators?) I'd let it ring, honestly, 9-13 times with no answer. I'd hangup and wait for a call back. Second, the response time of the officers is at most times embarrassing. Of course, they'd have to respond to the scene from their "nests", which would take enough time in itself, and also, they couldn't show any less sense of urgency as they walked to the scene of the fights. I've come to enjoy having the Sheriff's Department downtown lately. They, dare I say, seem to "care" more. I'll never forget a night I saw a group of WPD officers walking to a fight at Market and Second St. and a Sheriff ran right past them! It didn't even phase the WPD officers.
It seems as though the officers have become completely reliant on their radios. In other words, they don't seem to be watching people's behavior or listening for arguments, or any other sign that may indicate a brewing altercation. Like I stated earlier, they seem to be more comfortable talking to each other until the call comes over the radio. At that point it's usually too late.
I often wonder if Chief Evangelous is ever present downtown on the weekends. Or, when he is, do the officers act as most employees do when the "boss" is around and suddenly remember how to work? Whether more arrests happen or not, I think the most effective thing the police can do is spread out. Have one or two officers at each intersecion. Or, one or two at the intersection and one pacing the block. I think this simple presence, alone, would have a huge effect. Having that constant presence would prevent almost all occurrences. Don't think so? Prove me wrong! I've never understood how having so many officers standing in one place is more effective than the same amount spread out. If a single officer is unable to resolve the early stages of an altercation he/she could always use his/her radio. Right?
I know this is long and winded, but this is what is observed each weekend night. It is important to know that I have a lot of respect for the Wilmington Police Department, I just don't think they're performing to their full potential. I can only speak for the downtown club scene. If you read similar stories' comments, you'd find there are several who would agree with me.
Chief Evangelous, I agree with you that the police are only a small part of the issue, but it's a small part that can make a huge difference! A developing fight is not as easily spotted by a passing patrol car as well as it is by an officer out on the street, in the action. I believe there are plenty of officers downtown, just spread them out!
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