History of the Delaware State Police - 1990-1994
Rapid advances in technology, a variety of new and innovative programs and a fundamental change in the philosophy of policing best characterize the evolution of law enforcement which continues into the 1990’s. Simply reacting to calls for service and sorting out the situation once the damage has already been done is no longer sufficient. Troopers of the 90’s are still sworn to do this as they have for the last 75 years, but today they must go one step further. They are expected to examine underlying causes of crime and take preventive action. They are expected to serve as a resource to their community, interacting with its members in order to keep apprised of their concerns and to establish a basis of trust. Today’s troopers realize that they cannot hope to solve the complex problems facing our society alone. It is only through partnerships with our citizens, schools, and community organizations, that we are able to stand up to the immense challenges which face us every day.
The decade began with the construction of a new troop facility, a crime laboratory, and a new police
In 1990, a truck driver from Chattanooga, Tennessee, was traveling northbound on US 13 when his rig veered off the roadway and demolished the south side of Troop 5. Although there were two troopers in the building at the time, no serious injuries occurred as a result of the collision. As a result of severe structural damage to the building, the troop operations had to be moved to the old Troop 4 building north of Georgetown. After repairs were made, operations were moved back to the newly renovated Troop 5 in 1991.
A significant change in the area of labor relations occurred in 1990. The Delaware State Police had been represented by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) for several years. This organization represented a large number of municipal police agencies in Delaware, as well as throughout the entire United States. As a result of the large size of the FOP, a movement evolved favoring an organization that specifically represented Delaware State Police members. A referendum vote was held, with a majority of members favoring the creation of this new organization, which was officially named the Delaware State Troopers Association (DSTA) in March of that year. Since that time, the DSTA has represented its constituents in all collective bargaining issues.
In addition to representing Delaware troopers in labor issues, the DSTA is also involved in many public service activities. Examples include sponsoring sunshine foundation trips for terminally ill children, as well as youth sports programs and Camp Barnes.
Construction of a new Troop 4 facility began and was completed in 1990. The new building is located on U.S. Route 113, at the intersection of County Road 431, across from the department of motor vehicles, south of Georgetown. The new facility replaced the old Troop 4 on Route 113, north of Georgetown. Initially, the new building housed only criminal investigations. On July 1,1994, however, uniform patrol troopers were assigned to the new facility. This came about through a partnership with the Sussex County Council whereby the county paid for twelve additional troopers to be assigned at the barracks in a patrol capacity.
The Delaware State Police Museum is a project that began with initial planning in 1990. The building is 6200 square feet and includes a conference room and library. A computer system will be on-site that will have the names of Delaware Troopers, past and present, as well as their duty assignments. This information will also be available for civilian employees. The building was completed in the Spring of 1997, with exhibits and displays currently being developed. The building will be completely outfitted and dedicated by April 28, 1998, the 75th Anniversary of the Delaware State Police.
In May of 1990, a new Delaware State Police Memorial was dedicated on the front lawn of the Academy. The seven foot tall monument was cut in the shape of the State of Delaware from Barre Vermont Granite, which was selected for its ability to withstand the effects of adverse weather conditions over time. The memorial bears the names of troopers who have given their lives in the performance of their duties. It is a lasting tributeto our fallen comrades and symbolizes the respect and honor we hold for their sacrifice.
Sadly, the decade has already witnessed the addition of four new names to the memorial. Two members of the 59th Delaware State Police training academy class were killed in separate car accidents while responding to emergency calls for service. On March 20 of 1990, Trooper Kevin J. Mallon was killed in an automobile accident on State Route 16 west of Milton. Trooper Mallon was responding to a burglary alarm at 6:44 am and was traveling east on State Route 16 using lights and siren when he approached the rear of a vehicle slowing to make a left turn in front of him. Trooper Mallon veered left in an attempt to avoid colliding with the vehicle and his patrol car ran off the roadway, striking a large tree. He died from injuries sustained in the collision that same day. Trooper Mallon was laid to rest in the Cemetery at St. Thomas The Apostle, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.
Just six months later, on September 11, 1990, Trooper Gerard Dowd, of Troop 5 Bridgeville lost his life in an automobile accident while responding to assist fellow troopers at a reported fight in progress complaint. Trooper Dowd was traveling eastbound on State Route 54 on a foggy night when his patrol car collided with a tractor trailer at the intersection of State Route 54 and Maryland Route 353. Trooper Dowd was buried at the Lady of Lourdes Cemetery in Seaford on September 15, 1990.
Trooper Robert Bell died at the age of 51 on September 7, 1993. On January 14, 1981, Trooper Bell observed another officer wrestling with a suicidal subject threatening to jump from a bridge on the Kirkwood Highway. As Trooper Bell offered assistance, he injured his back during the struggle. Three years later, he underwent surgery for his injured back. The surgery required a blood transfusion. The blood had not been tested for the AIDS virus, which resulted in his contracting the disease. The blood was traced to the original donor, who was later learned to have had the virus.
The division has implemented a host of new and innovative programs during the decade. The first of these involves an important segment of the public who had previously been forgotten or ignored. In October of 1990, the Delaware State Police, in conjunction with the State’s Criminal Justice Council, implemented the nation’s first statewide system designed to provide counseling and assistance to victims of violent crime. The program, administered by the division and the Delaware Victim’s Center, was supported by the 1984 Victims of Violent Crime Act. The centers, located at Newport Pike in New Castle County and at Southwest Front Street in Milford in Sussex County, provide victims and their families with a variety of services including:
- 24 hour on-scene crisis intervention
- 1-800-VICTIM1 hotline service
- Referral and information services
- Violent Crimes Compensation Board information and forms
In 1991, the Delaware State Police Victim Services Unit received the Tadini Bacigalupi Award from the National Organization for Victim's Assistance. The award was given in recognition of victim assistance programs of national distinction. The Delaware State Police was one of only three agencies recognized nationwide, as well as being the only police agency to receive the prestigious award.
During the decade, the division has fostered a productive relationship with several area schools in an attempt to help our young people confront some of the problems they face in our society. In 1990, the Delaware State Police implemented the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program in New Castle County. The concept of the DARE program was first conceived in Los Angeles, California in 1983, where it had proven effective in helping youths develop skills which enable them to resist peer pressure and avoid situations which expose them to drug use or experimentation. The DARE program places uniformed police officers in the public schools who teach classes to students in the 5th and 6th grades. The goals of the program are as follows:
- To provide accurate information to students relating to alcohol and drugs
- To teach students decision making skills
- To show youths how to resist peer pressure
- To provide young people with alternatives to drug use
Within the next two years, the DARE program was expanded to Kent and Sussex Counties. It still continues to help youths improve their self image and develop a sense of personal responsibility. In 1992, over 5,200 students in thirty-nine schools statewide participated in the program.
The pervasive drug problem in the First State has prompted the division to continue its proactive role in the deterrence, enforcement and prosecution of drug related offenses. During the early 1990’s, the influx of crack cocaine into small towns throughout the state and the resulting proliferation of open air drug markets forced local law enforcement to seek the assistance of the Delaware State Police Special Investigations Unit. The unit provided small town police departments with assistance in gathering intelligence, interviewing informants, conducting surveillance and implementing plans for drug raids.
The Delaware State Police implemented "Operation Clean Air" in August of 1990. This program enlisted troopers, detectives and patrolmen from local police departments in a combined effort to conduct "sweeps" of open air drug markets. These highly visible operations resulted in numerous arrests for a variety of drug and weapon related criminal violations, and received many favorable comments from law abiding citizens who lived in the drug infested areas where the sweeps were conducted.
The concept of "Community Policing" is the impetus behind many new programs and initiatives which have emerged during the decade. The Delaware State Police Crime Prevention Institute was established in 1993 by the Community Services Section. The unit's mission is to provide crime prevention education to the general public. Courses are offered statewide, free of charge, at the four campuses of the Delaware Technical & Community College. The topics covered include personal safety, carjacking, burglary prevention, neighborhood watch, fraud/financial crimes, drug awareness, as well as specific crime prevention topics relating to seniors and children.
During the same year, a federal grant was obtained and used to purchase a rural community policing van. The van would be staffed by members of the new Rural Community Policing Unit who were specially selected and trained members of the Community Services Section. The van will allow "on the spot" community access to the police in rural Kent and Sussex Counties traveling among several targeted communities in the two counties, with the goal of reducing crime in these rural areas. Programs provided by the unit include conflict resolution, peer leadership, drug awareness, crime prevention, and neighborhood watch.
In 1994, the LA LINEA Program (Latinos in Need of English Assistance) was developed through a partnership with the Delaware State Police and the Latin American Community Center. Projects designed to improve services to Delaware’s growing Latino population include: a 911 interpreter service in over 140 languages, a translated version of the Delaware Driver’s Education Manual and a Spanish speaking session of the DARE program at Camp Barnes in Sussex County.
In its ongoing effort to fight crime, the division has implemented a number of proactive programs which are designed to identify criminals and apprehend them either before or during the commission of their crimes. One such program, the Street Crimes Unit, was first adopted in 1991 in New Castle County. The unit was expanded to include Kent and Sussex Counties in October, 1992. It’s mission was to track known criminals, stake out possible targets of crime, such as convenience stores, and act on intelligence information gathered from various police agencies throughout the state. Although the units were discontinued in all three counties due to manpower considerations, they were recently reactivated in New Castle County.
Troop 2 initiated the Fugitive Investigative Search Team (F.I.S.T.) in October, 1991. The purpose of the unit was to seek out and apprehend wanted persons. During the Unit’s first three months of operation, seventeen persons were apprehended for a total of 94 charges. In 1992, 46 fugitives were arrested, for a total of 218 charges.
January 14, 1991, saw the beginning of Delaware's Firearms Transaction Approval Program. This program was administered through the State Bureau of Identification, and was the second program of its kind in the nation. It requires area gun shop owners to call the State Bureau of Identification when a customer wishes to purchase a handgun. The clerk or store owner provides an operator with the prospective customer’s name and date of birth. Criminal history checks are then conducted and the transaction is either approved or disapproved. The average response time for an approval was seven minutes, with a nineteen minute average for a disapproval. A total of 11,526 requests were made through the program that year, with 10,539 of them approved. Fifty-three wanted persons were apprehended while trying to purchase a firearm as a result of the program during the first year of it’s implementation.
Issues of traffic and highway safety continue to be of concern to the public as they have throughout the existence of the Delaware State Police. In July of 1990, a new mobile intoxilyzer unit was unveiled, referred to as BART, (Breath Analysis Response Team). The team consists of an intoxilyzer placed on a van that operates in conjunction with several road units. The troopers conduct saturation patrols in areas where high incidents of accidents and arrests for DUI violations occur. Using the van as a central processing point, the troopers can test and process offenders in a more efficient manner.
In an attempt to reduce the number of deaths and injuries occurring on Delaware highways as a result of failing to wear a seatbelt, the Delaware State Police and the Office of Highway Safety announced a joint effort in June of 1994. The program, called the "Rollover Convincer", is used to educate the public concerning the dangers of not wearing seatbelts by demonstrating what happens to unrestrained occupants in an auto collision. The convincer is a 1987 Chevrolet S-10 pick-up truck cab, which is rotated by electric and hydraulic motors. It contains an unrestrained "dummy" which is thrown around inside the passenger’s compartment as the device rotates. The goal of the program is to increase seatbelt usage in the First State. The "Rollover Convincer" is towed to a variety of events and displays throughout the state by a 1984 marked Chevy Blazer.
Several part-time support units currently perform tasks which are vital to the division’s mission. They are comprised of troopers who commit their time and effort to the specialized tasks which they perform in addition to their regularly assigned duties.
In July, 1991, the division created the Tactical Control Unit (TCU) to respond to civil disturbances, labor disputes, public demonstrations, and other events involving large or disorderly crowds. The unit consists of thirty-one members, and is broken down into north and south teams. Four canine officers are assigned to the unit for crowd control purposes.
The Delaware State Police Bomb Disposal Unit is a part-time support unit which is the first responder to suspected incendiary devices. The unit searches, locates and diffuses or renders harmless packages, and devices that are suspect.
The Hostage Negotiation Unit is a part-time support unit which responds to hostage situations, barricaded or suicidal persons, or any other situation which requires their special communications skills and problem solving abilities. The unit is comprised of ten officers, which are broken down into north and south teams, who are available on a call out basis 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Scuba Team has the responsibility for the search or recovery of drowning and homicide victims, evidence and property, as well as vehicles. The unit maintains an airboat that can be used for the search of inland waterways and marshes. Membership into the unit is competitive, and candidates are required to attend the six week U.S. Navy Dive School in Panama City, Florida.
The Special Operations Response Team (SORT) is a part-time unit consisting of 24 members. They are trained in the use of specialized weapons systems, chemical agents, and entry tactics designed for resolving situations involving hostages or barricaded subjects. High risk entries for search and arrest warrants are also conducted by the unit. The team also responds to civil disturbances and any incident where the situation may require a tactical response. The unit is divided into north and south teams, with each having a trooper medic assigned to them.
In November, 1994, a full time Video Lottery Enforcement Unit was created to assist the Delaware Lottery in the monitoring of gaming facilities in the state. The unit consists of five people, who conduct background investigations on employees at the facilities. The officers also do the same for businesses involved in the gaming enterprise. The unit is also responsible for conducting investigations of internal thefts or other criminal activity that may occur at the facilities.
The Delaware State Police has relied upon its full-time civilian workforce to perform a variety of essential tasks since the 1940’s. One section which is often taken for granted is the Delaware State Police Transportation Section which oversees the preventive maintenance program for the division’s fleet of vehicles. Thirteen mechanics conduct a full-service operation for vehicles, including oil changes and complete diagnostic work, as well as engine overhauls. All divisional vehicles from patrol cars to the Mobile Command Post undergo a 17-point preventive maintenance check every 4000 miles. This in-house talent saves the division funds by completing work that would be much more expensive if done by private mechanics.
The State Bureau of Identification consists of nine uniform and thirty-four civilian employees. The services provided include: crime report data entry, criminal history record checks, expungements / pardons, detective licensing, fingerprinting, firearms transaction approval, missing persons clearinghouse, interstate identification index, information and security investigations.
Since the late 1970’s, the Delaware State Police Personnel Section has been charged with the responsibility of hiring all uniform and civilian members of the division. They also develop and administer the promotional testing and selection systems within the division, and oversee the career development program. They are also responsible for the payroll function of the division and work with trainers from Cardio- Kinetics in implementing the physical fitness program. The Personnel Section also manages the benefits package for all Department of Public Safety employees.
Part-time volunteers have also played a significant role in assisting the division in conducting its daily operations. The Volunteers in Police Support program utilizes senior volunteers who help at the troops in performing non-law enforcement functions. Examples include updating computer files, auditing warrant files, and providing follow-up calls to crime victims. Interested volunteers are selected through the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, (RSVP). The volunteers proved to be a great asset to the troops by freely giving of their time and providing needed services.
In 1992, the Delaware State Police was the first police department on the east coast to use computers and modern surveying equipment to measure and diagram the scenes of serious and fatal traffic crashes. Three Sokkia "Total Station" surveying systems and the computer equipment and training necessary for their operation were purchased for the division by the Delaware Turnpike Authority. The
Total Station utilizes the concept of Electronic Distance Measuring (EDM), which provides an accuracy of up to 1/100th of an inch at a distance of 1,000 feet. The equipment was assigned to the Fatal Accident Investigation and Reconstruction (FAIR) teams in each of the three counties. Using the equipment, the teams of investigators are able to measure and reconstruct collision scenes with uncanny accuracy. In addition, the Total Station and the computer aided drafting software which it compliments drastically reduce the road closure time which is needed during a major accident investigation.
That same year, the Delaware State Police and Delaware National Guard became partners in the testing of a new piece of equipment, known as "Ionscan". The machine allows for the detection and analysis of trace amounts of narcotic residue, to the billionth of a gram. Delaware was chosen as the national testing site for this new piece of equipment, with the Delaware State Police being the first state police agency in the country to use the technology. In 1992, over $100,000 in currency and vehicles were tested and seized using the machine.
In June, 1992, the Delaware State Police established the Computer Support Unit. The unit's initial focus was on helping to establish the Computer Aided Dispatch program in Kent and Sussex Counties. This allowed for specific information about complaints to be entered into the system by dispatchers, such as the date, time, and location of the complaint and the officer assigned. Such information would allow managers to analyze events and productivity in the troop areas.
Three years later, the Delaware State Police joined other state agencies on the Delaware Internet. A file server was installed at each troop, headquarters, and the Video Lottery Enforcement Unit, forming a LAN, (Local Area Network). The LAN has the capability to communicate with other state agency networks, forming a WAN, (Wide Area Network). This WAN has become known as the Delaware Internet. The Computer Support Unit maintains all of the divisions computer equipment and software and ensures that all of the integrated networks are functioning properly.
In November, 1993, the Delaware State Police Mobile Command Center was completely refurbished with up-to-date communications equipment. The van is used for on-scene command and control of emergency operations, allowing county emergency communication centers to continue normal dispatching functions. The Mobile Command Center is designed for use at police and fire emergencies, civil disturbances, natural disasters, etc.
During that same year, the division purchased the latest technological weapon available in the war against speeders. LIDAR or Light Detection and Ranging is a technology by which a hand held laser device is used to clock speeders at distances of up to 4000 feet. The laser has one major advantage over RADAR based systems. They are vehicle specific, allowing an officer to "zero-in" on a specific vehicle, even if it is traveling with a group of other cars, leaving little or no margin for error.
Technology also provided Delaware troopers with some new and improved weapons during the decade. In 1994, the division underwent a transition to the Remington model 870 shotgun in 12 and 20 gauge sizes. The Smith and Wesson model 3000 12-gauge shotgun had been used since 1982. The new shotguns have durable synthetic stocks and are equipped with tritium sights which allow the shooter to use the weapon in situations where there is little or no light. In the fall of 1995, the division also changed the issued handgun.
The Smith and Wesson 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, used since the mid-1980's, was replaced by the Sigarms model P229. The P229 is chambered for the .357 Sig cartridge, which is considered "ballistically" superior to the 9 mm round.