Recidivism, L&I response times discussed at town hall meeting

By Tom Lehman 11:56pm, April 2, 2013 - Updated 9:52am, April 3, 2013
VIDEO: Segments of Tuesday night's town hall meeting and an interview with Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams
Wilmington residents expressed concerns over recidivism and communication with city departments while Mayor Dennis Williams reiterated his views on dealing with the city's violent crime during a town hall meeting Tuesday night.

WDEL's Tom Lehman has more:

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"I don't care if people call me heavy-handed. I don't care if people call me a strong law enforcement person. I'm not making excuses for violent offenders," Williams said at the onset of the meeting.

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He reiterated that commitment during a pair of spirited discussions with Wilmington residents who expressed their concerns over criminals who return to illegal activity due to their inability to find work. Williams

After the meeting, Williams defended his tough approach to dealing with Wilmington's violent crime. He says that while he wants to find programs to help those reentering society, he believes precedence should be given to addressing the the frequency of violence in the city.

"When you have people running up and down the streets with automatic have to deal with this. I'm concerned for our children and senior citizens. These parks aren't going to be under siege any longer," he says.

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He says creating more job opportunities will help decrease crime in the long-term future, but curbing violent crime remains an immediate concern. In addition, the mayor also says providing recreational opportunities for children will also help keep them from becoming involved in illegal activity.

Violent crime wasn't the only issue considered at the meeting. Wilmington resident, Betty Smith, says the department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) needs a more direct avenue of communication, especially when dealing with complaints over citations that require code violations to be rectified within 30 days. She thinks the time frame mandated under some citations is too short, especially for those who cannot afford improvements to the exteriors of their homes.

She wasn't happy when a city official suggested she file pre-paid paperwork provided at the meeting to the department and receive a response in 24 hours regarding a citation she received.

"I don't want no paperwork, I want to be able to go in and sit down and talk with somebody and see what can be done about it," Smith says.

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However, Williams defended the department after the meeting, and says it has an adequate response time for complaints.

"I don't think 24 hours is bad to get a response back. I don't think 48 hours is bad getting a response back," Williams says.

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He also thinks the department's 30 day time frame for residents to rectify violations is fair.

The meeting was the second in a series of four town hall meetings this week. The next meeting is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Wednesday at the Latin American Community Center at 301 North Harrison Street. WDEL will be there.

You can see the full schedule of the town hall meetings on the City of Wilmington's website.

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