Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Wilmington police and community members meet to build better relationships

Megan Pauly
Delaware Public Media
Community members prepare questions for Lieutenant Dan Selekman Tuesday morning.

The public met with Wilmington police officers Tuesday March 15 for the second in a series of meetings intended to build better relationships between the two groups.

The discussion came after a particularly violent couple of weeks in Wilmington, with seven shootings and three fatalities as a result of the injuries. 



The meeting doubled as a training for patrol officers with Lieutenant Dan Selekman fielding questions from a packed room of community members, and civic and non-profit leaders.

“I actually liked not being in uniform," Selekman said. "Peoples' guard isn’t up as much. I like this atmosphere. You put on a different game face with a uniform.”


One key topic of discussion was how witnesses and victims of a crime can safely - and effectively - communicate with police officers.

Both police officers and community members agreed that in order to change the “no snitch” code that often prevails, respectful communication between the two parties is crucial.


Community members such as Muhammad Salaam, Director of Community Intervention for New Castle County, offered their own suggestions, stressing the importance of partnership.


“The human being is in denial when they won’t accept the reality of their own behavior - and we’re talking about the police department and we’re talking about the community in general - so we’re all in denial until we come together and want to really represent the truth,” Salaam said.



Selekman also explained the difference between community policing and patrol officers’ regular 911 response duties.

“We are all under the community policing philosophy, which is that we all mutually set goals - the police department and the community - and we work together to reach those same goals. That’s community policing,” Selekman said.


Selekman said if an officer is sitting in his car, he may be writing a report or responding to a 911 call. But if officers have an extra hour here and there, they can – and should – spend time walking the street, getting to know community members.

He also noted that the 10 to 15 officers in Operation DISRUPT deployed to specific “problem areas” have more capacity to walk around in the community.

“They’re not dictated by the 911 complaints," Selekman said. "They go to the hot spots, the areas that need specific resources."

Selekman added that community members can play a key role by helping provide officers with more context in certain situations, as well as attending civic meetings and staying involved.


"If you mapped out the crime - without even knowing statistically -  I would tell you the places who have poor relationships within themselves - poor civic associations - the neighborhoods are poor as well," Selekman said.


Selekman said he’d like to hold the next meeting in June out on the street, bringing the conversation to community members who might not otherwise be involved.

“There is not a one size fits all for this problem," Selekman said. "There’s a family breakdown, there’s a social breakdown, there’s breakdowns within the school systems, within police departments."


Related Content