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Wilmington Police Department reports decrease in shootings last year

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media

Throughout the City of Wilmington, shooting incidents were down 58 percent in 2018 compared to 2017. There were 115 fewer shooting victims.


And the number of murders in Wilmington last year was the lowest it’s been since 2013— according to Wilmington Police Department data.

Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy joined the force mid-2017. He credits last year’s decrease in gun violence largely to data-driven policing, group violence intervention and community engagement.

“Respect to the community, police legitimacy, procedural justice, solving crimes, treating people fairly, going to community meetings, making those relationships,” he said.  

Tracy calls last year’s change progress— but not yet success. “Still at the numbers that we’re at, still too many. And we have to find out ways working with our elected officials, working with our judicial partners, working with the community and most of these programs, businesses,” said Tracy.

Citywide, aggravated assaults rose three percent last year over 2017. Auto thefts rose four percent.

Police District 13 on the northeast side of the city had the most shooting victims last year, at 22. Five districts saw at least as many shooting victims the previous year— topped by the Hedgeville area, which had 40 shooting victims.

"In January 2017 when I took office, the single most pressing issue in the city was gun violence, more specifically, homicides," said Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki.


Purzycki says he sees as an improvement in police-community relations. “Most notable from my point of view is that while violent crime is down, complaints about our police officers are down as well,” he said.

Tracy says the Police Department will work on institutionalizing his new policies this year.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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