Grant funds new equipment for Del. police department
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 02:09
Delaware State law enforcement panels approved $900,000 worth of grants for police departments throughout the state on Wednesday, Sept. 5.
The Fund to Combat Violent Crime Committee approved the grants and a new law designed to provide more resources to Delaware police departments permitted the allocations.
However, the announcement received mixed reactions from police chiefs and Delaware residents alike, and many were concerned about the public’s access to the police department’s spending.
Senior Emily Weddle said she feels there is a fine line between necessary transparency and giving the public too much information.
“I think that information about police spending should definitely be available if you want to go and find it,” Weddle said. “Just maybe the specifics about what exactly they’re spending it on shouldn’t be out there.”
MCpl Gerald Bryda of the Newark Police Department said he does not believe public knowledge of police spending will compromise police officers’ safety.
“I can’t really speak to the concerns of other police departments,” Bryda said. “In our case, the grant was just used for a fully marked squad car, so I don’t hold any reservations about the public knowing.”
The Newark Police Department applied for, and was granted $39,200 to buy and fully equip a new Chevrolet Caprice. Bryda said the cruiser will be utilized by a new community oriented policing group, called the Special Operations Unit, geared towards problem solving. One of the goals of this new unit is to operate without pulling resources from the standard patrols.
Newark’s grant approval raised questions about the purpose of the applications. Officials said the program guidelines do not allow for funding of equipment like patrol cars or uniforms to “justify the existence of a police department.”
However, Bryda said the committee concluded that an established police department like Newark was justified in receiving grant money for the new special-purpose vehicle.
“We applied for the grant because the money was available,” Bryda said. “With the additional personnel, we needed more marked police vehicles.”
Senior Briana Jakeway said she felt that providing too much information and allowing it to end up in the wrong hands could be costly.
“The amount of money spent should definitely be in the state’s breakdown, but the people they are trying to stop will also have access to that information,” Jakeway said.
She said although criminals would have access to this information, she does not think details about the upgrades are particularly dangerous.
“It’s pretty much assumed that police are always going to have whatever they need to fight crime and I guess the public should know,” Jakeway said. “As long as they aren’t releasing details about the equipment’s tactical uses and what not, then I don’t see any real danger.”
The new law, which provides for more resources to be allocated to Delaware police departments, established a $15 penalty charged to those departments convicted of offenses. The money from the new fees is distributed between the Department of Safety and Homeland Security and local law enforcement agencies, with a grand total of $1.78 million shared in the first year.
Senior Veronica Kim said she feels increased funding for updated equipment is especially important in areas where violent crime is becoming more of an issue.
“I mean, living in a college town, you really see a lot of crime,” Kim said. “There are so many people from out of town looking to take advantage of the students here. It’s hard for me to say whether or not increased funding will actually keep any potential burglars out of my house.”