New Castle County Police launch body camera pilot program

By Amy Cherry 2:09pm, July 30, 2015 - Updated 9:51pm, July 30, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.
New Castle County Police are aiming to become the first major police agency in the state to equip all of their officers with body cameras.

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The New Castle County Police force purchased 10 body cameras, eight of which hit the streets this past month, worn by officers in the patrol and special operations divisions.

"We want transparency; we want trust in our community--and this is the fastest and cleanest way to do it," said New Castle County Police Colonel Chief Elmer M. Setting.

Body cameras are proven to positively affect behavior of both suspects and officers.

"We're bringing the cameras in because we feel confident that our officers are out there doing the right thing," Setting said. "But this answers the age old question: 'How do you prove it?' This is how you prove it."

Attorney General Matt Denn is also backing county police's push to implement body cameras.

"We believe that body cameras for police officers are a great tool, and that the state's end goal should be that every police officer in the state wears one," Denn said. "For prosecutors, whose core responsibility is to discover the truth and act on the truth, having body camera footage makes it possible for us to do our jobs better."

The chief told WDEL he believes body cameras will be mandated either federally or by the state at some point. Delaware's secretary of Homeland Security Lew Schiliro told WDEL in an interview late last year that body cameras for police officers would be 'inevitable'.

Setting said he wanted to jump on the technology, using approximately $10,000 in funding from a Justice Assistant Grant, before any mandate is issued.

"We'll already have lived through the growing pains," Setting said.

His goal is to have his entire force of 385 officers equipped with body cameras within two years, but he admitted that won't be an easy feat. The cameras are only a small part of the overall cost of implementation. Storing the video on servers is where the cost of body cameras can easily careen out of control.

"It's millions of dollars, and so we're going to have to go after federal money out of Washington, state money, JAG money," Setting said. "(It's a) very, very expensive undertaking.'

Exact figures for full implementation were not available Thursday. New Castle County Police spokesman Officer First Class Tom Jackson said the amount of storage needed per camera is is still being studied along with the cost of storing the video on servers.

Under the pilot program, Setting said they're using existing servers to store the data, so the cost is minimal. Once the force surpasses the first 20-30 cameras, Setting advised they'll have to buy new servers or rent secure cloud space, accessible only by the attorney general's office.

Here's a look at what a body camera on an officer can see during a routine traffic stop.  (A blurring effect is in place to protect the identity of the man pulled over.)

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The issue of whether police should wear body cameras entered the national spotlight after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. A grand jury decision not to indict the officer in the Ferguson shooting led to the Delaware NAACP calling for officers to wear body cameras. Vice President Biden also spoke in support of body cameras at the 2015 Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast in Wilmington.

Earlier this week, New Jersey's attorney general said the Garden State is purchasing body cameras to outfit its entire force of 1,000 troopers with the technology.

So far, only a handful of body cameras are being used by law enforcement in Delaware. Ocean View Police in Sussex County have purchased and implemented body cameras for their small police force.

Delaware State Police (DSP) don't currently possess any body cameras. Sergeant Richard Bratz told WDEL that DSP is studying the use of implementing body cameras statewide in conjunction with the Delaware Department of Justice and the Delaware Police Chief's Council in cooperation with House Concurrent Resolution No. 46.

Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams also supports the implementation of body cameras for the Wilmington Police force and signed an executive order in May ordering that the department study the issue. WDEL learned that the Wilmington Police Department already possesses a dozen body cameras, but Chief Bobby Cummings said that they haven't purchased a server to securely store the video footage.

New Castle County Police are using the Vievu LE3 body camera model that records up to six hours of audio and video in standard definition. Officers with the New Castle County Police will wear the small cameras on the front of their uniform; officers will also have discretion to turn the cameras off when needed--an issue that could become controversial.

New Castle County Police officers will wear body cameras on the front of their uniforms.

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"When you're taking to someone who's been a victim of a rape, you have to be able to turn that camera off; when you're talking to a witness who's about to disclose how a homicide occurred, they want that camera off," he said. "I do, I trust my officers, and we will have checks and balances in place."

Setting said the department will monitor the body cameras the same way that they monitor vehicle speeds in cars.

"If we find an officer that is violating our policy of shutting the camera off at will, we'll know that," said Setting. "If they don't do the right thing, they're held accountable."

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Contact Amy Cherry at acherry@wdel.com or follow her on Twitter at @acherry13.




New Castle County Police warn of tire slashings in Pike Creek community

By DJ McAneny 3:17pm, July 30, 2015 - Updated 5:45pm, July 30, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Tom Lehman reports. (Footage courtesy NBC10/WCAU)
New Castle County Police said they are investigating a series of slashed tired that occurred in the Fairway Falls community in Pike Creek.

According to authorities, during the early morning hours of Thursday, July 30, 2015, officers responded to multiple calls reporting slashed tires. Six victims were identified, a "majority" of whom lived in the 3200 block of Champions Drive near the intersection of Doral Drive, police said.

Police said there is no suspect information available at this time. Anyone with information about the incident is urged to contact New Castle County Police at 302.573.2800 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.


National Journal columnist: Vice President Joe Biden more 'electable' than Hillary Clinton

By Andrew Sgroi 2:32pm, July 30, 2015
Vice President Joe Biden (Photo/AP/File)
If Joe Biden chooses to enter the Democratic presidential field for 2016, how would he fare against the presumptive nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton?

Political editor Josh Kraushaar with the National Journal, told WDEL's Delaware Afternoon News Wednesday that Biden represents what Clinton doesn't--a seamless transition to a third Barack Obama term.

"He's the guy that's stood by his side on every key issue," said Kraushaar. "If you're trying to recreate the Obama coalition of the last two campaigns, why not go with the guy who's been loyal and behind President Obama the whole time?"

As for the vice president's tendency for slip-ups and misspeaking, Kraushaar suggested the current political landscape makes this less of a liability.

"Voters like authentic candidates--Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders--the folks who say it like it is even if they make factual mistakes," he said.

Kraushaar thinks Joe Biden would be more electable than Hillary Clinton in the general election, if he can win the Democratic nomination.

"There's lingering and ongoing controversies over Hillary's e-mail server have clearly had an impact with the broader public," he said.


Man arrested in Maryland for alleged sexual assault in Dewey Beach

By Mark Fowser 10:08pm, July 30, 2015
Corey Mitchell
A Lincoln man is behind bars at the Wicomico County Detention Center in Maryland in connection with an alleged sexual assault at a home in Dewey Beach.

Dewey Beach Police located 21-year-old Corey Mitchell in Wicomico County Wednesday, where he was arrested.

Police said Mitchell raped a 19-year-old Pennsylvania woman on July 22 at a home on Bellevue Street in Dewey Beach. They were called to the home at 5:30 a.m. that Wednesday. Police said the victim was transported and admitted to Beebe Medical Center for injuries related to a sexual assault.

Mitchell is being extradited from Maryland to Delaware on charges of second-degree rape.


Judge refuses dismissal motion in 2007 killing

By Associated Press 9:39pm, July 30, 2015
A Delaware judge has refused to dismiss charges against a man accused of murder in a 2007 shooting at a mobile home park near Newark.

Following a hearing Thursday, the judge refused to dismiss the case against Jason Slaughter. Slaughter, who could face the death penalty if convicted of killing 22-year-old Christopher Masters, claimed he was improperly extradited from Georgia.

Slaughter was found outside Masters' home in 2007 with a gunshot wound but was never charged. He told police he had been shot in a home invasion.

But Georgia police contacted Delaware authorities in 2010 after charging Slaughter and his wife in a fatal shooting in that state. Investigators later found that Slaughter had life insurance policies on both the Georgia and Delaware shooting victims naming Slaughter as the beneficiary.


Delaware's Carper: gas tax hike the only solution for sustained funding of nation's highways

By Andrew Sgroi 1:33pm, July 30, 2015
Senator Tom Carper (D/DE) speaking in front of Congress Wednesday (Senator Carper's Office)
Senator Tom Carper thinks the gas tax is the most prudent way to furnish improvements to the nation's infrastructure.

Speaking to Congressional colleagues Wednesday, Carper offered that funding for the country's roadways should be propped up by its consumers.

"I'm not a Congress of one," the senator reminded. "If I were, I would go back and say we should look--at least for the next six years--user fees."

Carper said, since it's been 22 years since the last gas and diesel tax hike passed Congress, he will push for a fix initially proposed in the Bowles Simpson fiscal plan to reduce the federal deficit.

"One of the things that I'm going to be doing--within the next day or two--is to introduce an increase in the gas and diesel tax (to) four cents-a-year for the next four years, and to then index the gas tax and diesel tax to the rate of inflation."

The senator urged that the Highway Trust Fund absolutely requires these reinforcements.

"Asphalt, the cost of concrete, the cost of labor, the cost of steel have all gone up," he revealed, "but the user fee--the gas tax, the diesel tax--have not gone up at all."

Carper projected the tax hike he planned to propose would raise $180 billion over the next ten years.

"For roughly a cup of coffee a week, we can have better roads, highways, bridges," he surmised. "A whole lot better."


Two women indicted for separate child deaths in Sussex County

By Mark Fowser/WXDE 2:09pm, July 30, 2015
Detoshia D. Spence, left, and Valorie Handy, rght
Two Sussex County women face charges in connection with separate child deaths.

Delaware State Police and the Attorney General's Office say the death of a ten-month-old boy January 28th, 2015, at Handy's Little Disciples day care on Layton-Davis Road has been ruled a homicide.

At the time, an investigation suggested that a day care worker was unable to wake the infant from a nap.

51-year-old Valorie Handy, of Millsboro, was indicted Monday for murder by abuse or neglect.

Handy was being held at the women's prison on $100,000 cash bond.

23-year-old Detoshia Spence, of Laurel, is charged with murder by abuse or neglect, endangering the welfare of a child, child abuse and offensive touching in connection with the death of her three-year-old daughter in April.

That investigation started April 17th, when rescue personnel and Laurel Police were dispatched to the Carvel Gardens apartments where a CPR was in progress.

That child's death was also ruled a homicide.

Spence is being held at the Delores J. Baylor Women's Correctional Institution in lieu of $111,100 cash bond.

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Delaware State Police and the Delaware Attorney General's Office released the following details Thursday:

The Delaware State Police and the Delaware Department of Justice have announced the indictment and arrest of two women in Sussex County believed to be responsible for the deaths of children in two separate cases. Both were indicted by a grand jury on Monday and have been arrested.

Valorie Handy, 51 of Millsboro, was indicted Monday, July 27, 2015, on one charge of Murder by Abuse or Neglect 1st Degree in the death of a 10-month old victim in her daycare in January 2015. The case has been ruled a homicide.

On Wednesday January 28, 2015 around 2:15 p.m., troopers were dispatched to Handy's Little Disciples daycare located at 28194 Layton-Davis Road after a 9-1-1 call was received from the home stating a 10 month old was unresponsive. Preliminary investigation suggests a daycare worker attempted to wake the 10 month old male from a nap, and upon doing so, observed the infant unresponsive. The young child was transported by EMS to Beebe Healthcare in Lewes where he was eventually pronounced dead.

On Wednesday, July 29, 2015, Handy was taken into custody near her residence and presented before the Sussex County Superior Court and was committed to Delores J. Baylor Women's Correctional Institution in default of $100,000 cash bond. (mug shot attached).

Detoshia Spence, 23, of Laurel was indicted on Monday, July 27, 2015 on the following charges: Murder by Abuse or Neglect 1st degree, 2 counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, 2 counts of Child Abuse 2nd, and Offensive Touching in the death of her 3-year old daughter in April.

The preliminary investigation started on Friday, April 17, 2015, at approximately 7:17 p.m., after a call was received by the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center reporting CPR in progress. The Laurel Police Department, Laurel Fire Department, and Sussex County Paramedics were dispatched to the 900 block of Daniel Street, Carvel Gardens Laurel, DE. The victim was turned over to the Division of Forensic Sciences where an autopsy was performed. The manner of death was ruled a homicide.

On Wednesday, July 29, 2015, Spence turned herself in at DSP Troop 4 and then presented before Sussex County Superior Court. She was committed to Delores J. Baylor Women's Correctional Institution in default of a $111,100.00 cash bond.

"The deaths of children at the hands of those who are supposed to be caring for them are tragic and heartbreaking cases," Attorney General Matt Denn said. "The police and prosecutors in these two cases spent months investigating the cases and reviewing evidence, including complex medical evidence about how each of these children died. I am proud of how DOJ's criminal prosecutors and DSP troopers in Sussex worked through these tough cases to get to these indictments."


Delaware's Dogfish Head named top craft brewery in America by The Daily Meal

By WDEL staff 11:18am, July 30, 2015
WDEL File
Congratulations to Delaware's own Dogfish Head Brewery, named the Best Craft Brewery in America in 2015 by The Daily Meal.

The Milton brewery climbed to the top spot for their more that 20 years of refining its "craft." TDM called Dogfish Head brews "approachable and relatable to all tastes."

"Their dedication to quality is what garners them such a respectable reputation in the Rehoboth Beach area and around the country," the site said about the brewery."

Highlighted was the Belgian white "Namaste." To review the whole list, head to their page for the "50 Best Craft Breweries in America 2105."


Delaware Park Shooting: jockey's SUV hardly a thoroughbred

By Andrew Sgroi 9:10am, July 30, 2015 - Updated 12:12pm, July 30, 2015
A police diver recovering what authorities believe to be the gun used in the shooting/(Courtesy Tim Furlong/NBC10)
Delaware State Police released further details Thursday regarding the shooting at Delaware Park in Stanton on Wednesday, July 29, 2015.

Troopers said 30-year-old Ruben Rojas, who was employed as a jockey at the racetrack, was involved in an argument just before 9 a.m. with a 38-year-old trainer in the stables area.

Police said Rojas shot the trainer in the stomach while still sitting in his sport utility vehicle. As he left the area, Rojas discarded the gun into a creek on the Delaware Park property. According to troopers, the gun--reported stolen from Cleveland, Ohio--was later recovered from the creek by a police diver.

The trainer was taken to Christiana Hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

Authorities said Rojas surrendered at the Prides Court Apartments in Newark after a police helicopter spotted the Nissan Xterra Rojas was driving parked in the lot there.

Ruben Rojas was arrested and transported to Troop 2, Glasgow, where he was charged with first-degree assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of a stolen firearm. He was arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 2 and committed to the Howard Young Correctional Institution for lack of $123,000 cash bail.


AP Sources: Phillies agree to trade Cole Hamels to Texas

By Rob Maadi, AP Sports Writer 12:21am, July 30, 2015 - Updated 10:33am, July 30, 2015
Cole Hamels. (AP Photo/File)
Two people familiar with the deal said the Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to trade ace left-hander Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers for a package of prospects.

Both people spoke to The Associated Press late Wednesday night on condition of anonymity because the trade has not been finalized. Hamels has a limited no-trade clause but does not have to approve a deal to the Rangers.

Hamels would become the first pitcher in major league history traded during a season immediately after throwing a no-hitter - he no-hit the Chicago Cubs on Saturday at Wrigley Field.

The 2008 World Series MVP was an integral part of the greatest run in franchise history when the Phillies won five straight NL East titles, two pennants and one World Series from 2007-11.

His trade follows Wednesday's deal that sent closer Jonathan Papelbon to Washington.




Police urge Wilmington residents to be on lookout for potential burglars, thieves

By Tom Lehman 12:41am, July 30, 2015 - Updated 10:35am, July 30, 2015
VIDEO: Wilmington Police Capt. William Brown and Councilman Charles 'Bud' Freel (D-District 8) discuss Wednesday night's meeting.
A recent uptick in burglaries and thefts in some Wilmington neighborhoods has prompted a warning from Wilmington police for residents to apply extra vigilance for suspicious behavior.

Officers speaking at a community meeting in the Delaware Art Museum on Wednesday said the recent break-ins--which have been occurring in sections of the city like Forty Acres, the Highlands and the Trolley Square area--can be discouraged by hiding valuable items from plain sight and contacting police whenever criminal activity might be occurring.

"It's really important for them to know their area, know their neighbors, get in touch with people and, if they see something out of place, to call us," Capt. William Brown said. "Whenever they see something strange, they should say something."

The crime has frustrated and disturbed some residents who have found their car windows broken or found a property that was burglarized. Councilman Bud Freel (D-District 8), whose district includes the neighborhoods represented at Wednesday's meeting, said some of the vehicle break-ins are crimes of opportunity and visible money inside vehicles is often a motivator.

"You have individuals out there who have drug habits and they're going to break into these vehicles for less than a dollar," he said.

Brown noted during the meeting that many of the thefts have involved bicycles, though it was unclear if those involved were connected or acting separately.

"We've recovered several bicycles since this trend started---I've believe about eight---but we're recovering them all over the city and most of the people riding them are juveniles," he said.

Residents were urged to take steps to make it clear that they are home, or appear to be, as a method of warding off potential burglars. Keeping front porch and backyard lights lit during the night were among the recommendations offered by police.

Tracey Schofield, the president of the Forty Acres Civic Association, said these types of crimes occur throughout Delaware but the information from police can help residents prevent themselves from becoming the victim of burglary.

"We have a meeting very similar to this every couple of years," she said. "It's just a reminder to the residents of what we need to do."

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You can contact Tom Lehman at tlehman@wdel.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.




Wilmington council members rankled by police chief's DISRUPT comments

By Tom Lehman 2:10am, July 30, 2015 - Updated 10:41am, July 30, 2015
Wilmington council members said comments from the city's police chief that linked their inaction on a proposed $585,000 reorganization with the resumption of patrols in high-crime areas are "disingenuous" and misleading.

In a news release issued on Wednesday by Mayor Dennis Williams' administration, Chief Bobby Cummings said 14 officers have been assigned to patrols in the DISRUPT unit, a police deployment strategy that formerly went by the moniker "Operation Disrupt." He said the move was necessary, partially because a budget amendment funding two new inspector positions and a chief information technology officer has stalled in a council committee.

Without the new positions---deemed "critical public safety resources" in the release---Cummings said it was necessary to move officers from other assignments, like community policing, to address a spike in shootings that occurred after the DISRUPT unit had been renamed and contracted to seven officers and a supervisor in June. The reduction occurred weeks before the conclusion of state-funded foot patrols paid for by the Delaware Department of Justice.

The DISRUPT unit was more than three times that size when it was first created in response to a higher-than-usual number of shootings and homicides in January. Administration officials have touted numbers they said showed that deployment was effective. The latest change to the group has boosted its numbers to more than 20 officers with two sergeants who will resume foot patrols in high-crime areas.

"While we will still look for ways to work with city council and state leaders to provide additional resources for the department, we can't wait to ensure the safety of our communities," Cummings said.

The explanation offered by the chief was flatly rejected by some council members, who said none of the additional positions were necessary to run Operation Disrupt. They argue the situation hasn't changed.

"I'm not sure how he can complain that by not having the budget amendment he's struggling to have officers out here," said Councilman Charles "Bud" Freel (D-District 8), a public safety committee member who opposed the new positions.

Council President Theo Gregory (D) supported the budget amendment but said Cummings comments were "disingenuous" because the legislation, which would have cut two patrol positions, was unrelated police deployment.

"None of those would have impacted the decision to do Operation Disrupt," he said.

The reduced number of officers involved with DISRUPT followed weeks after a state commission recommended major changes to the police department, including the addition of a deputy chief but not the creation of new inspector positions. The administration announced it sought the new positions, along with the technology officer and a civilian public information officer, as part of its own plan that already aligned with 80 percent of the panel's proposals.

However, the communications director was axed from the proposal before it reached council and the bill amending the budget failed to get past the public safety committee stage.

Gregory said Williams (D) has done "virtually nothing" to support the bill's passage and the administration should look to reach a compromise with council. He said the process has become political and showed the mayor's continued resistance to working with entities like council or the state in improving public safety.

"It's a collaboration, not a dictatorship," he said.

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You can contact Tom Lehman at tlehman@wdel.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook




Wilmington mayor launches My Brother's Keeper community program

By Taggart Houck 1:08am, July 30, 2015 - Updated 2:32pm, July 30, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Taggart Houck reports
In a room full of parents, students, and local officials at Howard High School of Technology, Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams kicked off My Brother's Keeper Community Challenge summit.

The program, started by President Barack Obama, is aimed at keeping young black men in school and on-track for success. Wednesday's summit was split into three parts: education, public safety, and neighborhood development. Each part was hosted by community officials like government officials, business leaders, and community stakeholders.

Williams said the program's strong emphasis on education is important.

"Children have to understand, if you don't get an education, it's a bottomless pit, it's no way out, and that's what we're trying to keep them away from," he said. "You have to get an education, and you have to be educated."

Dr. Jacqueline Jenkins taught the education seminar. She said education is where it all starts for young people.

"Our kids are our stars, and it's our responsibility to make them shine," she said. "So we have to ensure that they are prepared for the academic experience."

The program focuses on six pillars, ranging from getting a healthy start and entering school ready to learn, to successfully entering the workforce, to keeping kids on track and giving them second chances.

But for Jenkins, parents play a key role in their child's success.

"We need to make sure that our parents are prepared to support their children's academic experience because our parents are our first and continue to be our primary educator of our kids," she he said.

My Brother's Keeper organizers said they plan on holding another event next month.


West Chester University employee tests positive for Legionnaires' disease

By Associated Press 1:20pm, July 30, 2015 - Updated 2:09pm, July 30, 2015
Officials at a suburban Philadelphia university said an employee tested positive for Legionnaires' disease--and eight campus buildings had higher-than-acceptable levels of the bacteria.

West Chester University officials told more than 1,000 employees in an email Wednesday that steps were being taken to kill the Legionella bacteria that were found in the buildings' cooling towers.

A remediation firm is treating the affected cooling towers Wednesday and Thursday to eliminate the bacteria.

Officials said the university was informed of the employee's illness on July 6, 2015, and water samples were taken from the cooling towers three days later. The test results came in last week.

No classes are currently being held on the campus.

Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia spread by bacteria commonly found in water supplies.


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