This past Thursday, Wilmington City Council convened in person for the first time since early 2020. It seems, some may have lost their keyboard warrier status when they had to sit face to face with one another! Legislative business went over fairly smoothly and resulted in the standard yay-nay votes one comes to expect. However, when we reached non-legislative business, multiple resolutions were presented, more than legislation was but that is neither here nor there. The types of resolutions brought forth are what concerns me! And the results of those resolutions surprised me, to say the least!
Loretta Walsh presented not one, but FIVE resolutions requesting authorization from Council for WPD to apply for over $1.5 million in grant funds for, get this, "unspecified overtime costs." These resolutions were not a surprise, Chief Tracey informed everyone 2 weeks prior at the Public Safety Committee hearing that he was looking to apply for these grants. What was a surprise was that these resolutions were brought up to vote without the requested statistical information that 3 different Council members asked the Chief to provide. WPD was asked to provide proof of where past overtime expenditures were used and incurred and also for statistics showing any decrease in violent crimes after the receipt of multi-millions in grant funds for each of the last 4 years, also for "unspecified overtime." None of these reports were provided. Council members stated they had even taken an extra step and reached out to Chief Tracey themselves to request these stats and were ignored or told they were in the works. Yet, the resolutions were presented anyway!
I was PROUD and elated when I heard Councilman Johnson, notorious for supporting the police and additional funds for police, question the resolutions being presented without the requested reports being provided. He made a statement I have long supported, if we don't see any positive results, how can you expect us to just keep throwing money at the problem? And it's a questions that stands to be answered! Violent crimes have increased year after year since Chief Tracey was assigned here in 2017. Shooting incidents have increased year after year. Homicides have increased year after year. As have armed robberies and burglaries. The ONLY statistic Chief Tracey could readily provide was that "rape" cases have significantly decreased. Which we know is only true because rape is being charged less, with less severe crimes such as offensive touching, battery or harassment taking its place! Not only Councilman Johnson, but Councilwomen Gray and, of course, Darby pushed back and requested that these resolutions be held. At least until the statistics requested have been provided. On the one resolution that did go to vote, I was disappointed that Councilwoman Dixon chose to vote present,eaning not a yes or a no. Also, Councilwoman Cabrera took the opportunity to elcture everyone, again, about why we should be throwing all the money they want at the Wilmington Police Department, completely disregarding the will of her constituents, as polls have shown more than 90% of City residents want MAJOR reforms and less funding for WPD.
Overall, Wilmington Police Department was requesting over $1.5million in "unspecified overtime for violent crime reduction" when weve seen a SHARP increase in violent crime over Chief Traceys 4-5 year term. I am glad to see these resolutions were held, but I hope to see a mass showing of community members when they are brought back to vote in mid-November! And also at the "special" Public Safety Committee Meeting that will be held to discuss these at the beginning of November, TBD.