New Officers, Opioid Crisis focus for 2019

by Terry Rogers

Milford Chief of Police Kenneth Brown attributes Milford’s drop in crime to the fact that the City has a great police force. According to Chief Brown, Milford has very little major crime for a town its size, demonstrating how much pride the men and women on the force take in doing their jobs.

“Over the past year, crime statistics have improved in some areas but risen in others,” Chief Brown said. “For instance, robberies are down 30 percent, burglaries are down 44 percent and assaults are down 10 percent. However, firearm offenses are up 39 percent while drug overdoses are up 48 percent. Drug offenses have remained about the same.”

Chief Brown explained that dealing with the opioid crisis is one of the biggest issues that will continue to face the police force during 2019. The police force has been significantly impacted by the epidemic both in dealing with crime as well as their goal to be caretakers of the community. Police officers began carrying Narcan in 2016 and since that time have responded to more than two dozen overdoses each year. In an effort to address the problem, Milford Police Department is partnering with federal agencies on initiatives to combat opioids in the Milford area and beyond.

“The opioid epidemic impacts us operationally due to shootings and overdoses,” Chief Brown said. “Administratively, recruiting and retention have a significant impact. Our applicant pool has been down over 2/3 for the past five years. City Council approved five additional officers in June and we have been working hard to fill those positions. We are already down one officer when they approved the additional five and we lost two officers since then. We presently have two in the State Police Academy and three in the New Castle County Academy. I hope to get three more for the State Police Academy which will begin in March.”

One of the issues the department faces is that police academies are six months in length and then officers spend an additional three months training with Milford until they can work on their own as a fully-functioning officer. The two officers in the State Police Academy now will graduate in mid-February. This will allow them to begin working on their own near the end of May. Graduation from the New Castle Academy is later in the year so those officers will not be working independently with Milford until August. If Chief Brown can recruit three more officers to enter the State Police Academy for the March class, those officers will not be able to work independently until early 2020.

Chief Brown refuted recent comments that the downtown area was crime-ridden, pointing out that Milford’s downtown was very safe.

“We have been having foot patrols downtown for several years now as much as we can,” Chief Brown said. “We encourage our officers to walk downtown while they are on duty when they are able to. We also pay officers who are off extra duty pay to come in and walk downtown as well as other places throughout the City. There is no doubt that police presence deters crime. However, there is very little violent crime in our downtown areas, including Walnut Street and the Riverwalk. As we get the new officers on board, I believe we will be able to provide even more foot patrols to even better protect the downtown area.”

 

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