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State police hit Sussex crime hot spots

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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Oak Orchard, outlets targeted areas

Delaware State Police are using a new program to target crime hot spots in Sussex County, including Oak Orchard and the Tanger Outlets along the Route 1 corridor near Rehoboth Beach.

Troop 4 Commander Rodney Layfield said burglaries and thefts related to drug use are the major core crimes in the Oak Orchard area, while shoplifting is the core crime along Route 1. The area south of Seaford near Concord is the target area for Troop 5 in Bridgeville.

Speaking to Sussex County Council at its June 28 meeting, Layfield said troopers are assigned to the areas to make additional traffic stops, drug arrests and DUI arrests in an effort to deter crime as part of the State Police Enhanced Analytical Response program.

And it's working, he said. "We are placing a premium on proactive policing and are having some success," he said.

In Oak Orchard, he said, burglaries are down year to date from 34 in 2015 to 18 this year. Complaints are down about 40 percent.

Councilman George Cole R-Ocean View, asked where criminals are coming from. "Many are living there," Layfield responded. "They get out of jail and go back to what they know."

In Sussex County, he said, 70 percent of criminals have drug-arrest history. "Crime here is driven by drugs and especially heroin," Layfield said. "Heroin is creating hollow souls."

The outlets are a prime target for criminals in the beach area covered by Troop 7 in Lewes. Layfield said there are local shoplifters who steal to support their drug habit but there are also professional criminals whose job it is to shoplift at the more than 140 outlet stores.

Sussex County spends about $2 million a year for 44 additional Delaware State Police troopers to patrol in the county. The county started budgeting additional funds in 1994 to address concerns about coverage and response times in rural areas. There are 190 troopers assigned to Sussex County. The SPEAR program provides for more efficient operation at the troop level to assign troopers to certain areas in the county, Layfield said. For example, he said, more troopers are assigned to the Route 113 corridor between Georgetown and Millsboro from 2 to 6 p.m. to deter speeding because of a history of vehicle crashes along the roadway during that time.

"We track traffic tickets and time of day to help us locate where the core traffic and crime areas are. We look at the data over long periods of time," Layfield said.

Troop 4 is home base for the Sussex County detective section with 54 detectives assigned to the troop.

Over the next year, other troop commanders will present reports to Sussex County Council.



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Original Publication Date: July 12, 2016

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