Accountability badly needed in Dewey Beach

November 29, 2019

One thing leads to another.

First, it was the unreported stolen police gun that ended up in the hands of a local drug dealer and has yet to be recovered.

Then false and salacious accusations against the town manager were sent to the press.  It cost the town $400,000 to investigate and a lot of bad press. 

Next it was discovered that the police had stealthily accrued excess military equipment with the original value of $2.8 million without keeping records of sales or how this equipment was used.  Much of it is still unaccounted for and represents bad judgment at best.  At worst, well….

Two federal lawsuits for false arrest showed less than honorable actions by the police involved.  One case cost the town well over $105,000 in legal fees so far, paying attorneys’ fees for both sides plus a settlement of $25,000.  I personally tried to stop this one. I identified myself as a witness to part of the action and called the police directly to tell them that I saw the auditor give the report to the defendant. I warned them that they would not be able to defend a “theft of document” charge. But they arrested the defendant anyway and the case has squandered the town’s money.

Another lawsuit is pending, but it doesn’t look like a good outcome for the town.

Then there was a scathing report from a police consultant on the operations of the police with lots of recommendations to implement. The only recommendation the commissioners have acted on is to give the police a raise.

Most recently, we learned of extreme police brutality that shocks the conscience.  As far as we know, the individual involved was allowed to remain on duty from the Aug. 10 incident until this past week in spite of his horrific behavior that was witnessed by 10 people, including other officers, medics and bystanders.

Do you see a pattern? Lack of any accountability in Dewey Beach has created the environment for this recent egregious act of police brutality.  It has degraded into a downward spiral where the police feel they can do anything and get away with it.

This must stop.  These are not the actions of just one police officer.  Part of the problem is leadership and discipline.  Town council needs to take decisive action and make serious changes in the Dewey Police Department promptly to prevent further events such as these.

Diane Hanson
former mayor of Dewey Beach


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