New Castle County Council passes resolution urging county executive administration to address park safety
New Castle County Council is urging County Executive Matt Meyer and his administration to address recent safety issues in county parks.
A resolution was brought before the New Castle County Land Use Committee Tuesday afternoon and later passed unanimously in the full County Council meeting - calling for increased focus on park safety.
Recent crime in Glasgow Park brought local officials together for a public safety meeting earlier this month, where County Executive Matt Meyer and New Castle County Police Colonel Joseph Bolch already announced plans for additional safety measures.
Meyer’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Kenny Dunn told the county Land Use Committee Tuesday afternoon he doesn’t feel the resolution is needed because those plans are in progress.
“In late June, early July, the county executive pulled together his executive staff, public safety, police, and public works, because we noticed some more complaints about criminal activity in the parks," Dunn says. "This was even before some of the major incidents that were reported. We went through a litany list of things including increased patrols, increased visibility, increased gating of parks.”
Meyer says they are focused on installing park gates, increasing police presence in the parks, and building out the county’s cadet program so there are more officers available to patrol the parks.
He adds that although county police are short staffed, the number of officer-initiated reports of crime is increasing and community reports are decreasing – crime statistics themselves are also dropping.
Many Council members say constituents are concerned about recent New Castle County parks public safety incidents. Land Use Committee Co-Chair Councilman Dave Tackett claims they don’t hear about safety incidents in other municipal and state parks. He suggests the county could learn from them.
“Everything is on the table right now, and obviously gates kind of jump out at us immediately, that technology is out there, I don’t think we need to recreate the wheel, I just think we need to look at other jurisdictions that have already done it and have it done correctly," Tackett says.
Tackett says while police report crime is down, social media could be playing a role in public perception of crime.
At the recent public safety meeting at Glasgow park, Meyer said the county has never been safer, but Councilman Jea Street says that statement is an illusion, and suggests the administration seek outside counsel to address the issues.
Meyer says plans for additional safety measures have been in the works for weeks, and says council could have received the plans with a phone call rather than “playing politics” and passing a resolution.
"I'll travel to Washington D.C. or Philadelphia and people are afraid of those cities because of the fear-mongering happening on TV," Meyer says. "Let's not turn into that in New Castle County. Let's be honest about the safety risks. Let's be honest that there is danger anywhere at any time."
He adds that overstating the safety concerns is just as dangerous as understating them.