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Wilmington politicians vent frustration with police department

Wilmington City Council members excoriated police officials Monday night over what they see as a lack of progress in tangible efforts to stem the tide of violence seen in recent years.



The official purpose of the quarterly Public Safety Committee meeting was to introduce the city’s new policing consultant, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.


But several council members scolded Police Chief Bobby Cummings for continuing to withhold officer deployment numbers and other data they see as critical to better funding the department.

One report on real time crime statistics in the city was supposed to be delivered to council two months ago.


Cummings says that had to be pushed back due to undisclosed budgetary reasons, but Walsh says overshooting deadlines breeds mistrust.


“One of the reasons why I believe we’re hesitant about a lot of things is because we keep getting all these dates and nothing has been delivered to us," Walsh said.


Cummings offered council members updates on real time statistics during a weekly Wednesday morning meeting, but that the department needs an analyst to digest the raw data before it can produce readable reports for them.


"We're evolving," he said.


Despite the sky-high rates of violence and discord among elected city officials over how to tackle the problems, Ramsey says he doesn’t think a complete overhaul is needed.


“I see a foundation," said Ramsey. I see a very strong foundation, but one that can actually be shored up and be built up a bit more just from my first initial observations.”


Residents who spoke during the meeting said they’re eager to see what recommendations Ramsey puts forward when his contract ends in seven months.


But they said the city needs to fully implement them, unlike the plan put forth by a state commission last year.

Mayor Dennis Williams's (D) reluctance to accept $1.5 million in state money to help overhaul the police department also surfaced, but Ramsey said that money must be spent wisely and not as a band-aid or it could do more harm than good, if it ever reaches the city's coffers.

Ramsey's report is due toward the end of summer.

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