Dewey police problems unique to Dewey
A recent Cape Gazette story focused on Lewes Police Department’s budget requests for the upcoming fiscal year. The discussion between Chief Tom Spell and elected officials featured a back and forth about the number and type of vehicles needed and possible elimination of seasonal police.
In what came across as an attempt to minimize the seriousness of unresolved problems, Dewey Mayor TJ Redefer cited this story to show that other municipalities and their police departments are also working through issues.
“This is not unique to Dewey Beach, what we’re going through right now,” he said, during the March 10 town council meeting.
It is true many towns find themselves facing fiscal issues that strain the balance between public safety and budget soundness. Dewey is no different – as of the council meeting, the town is still projecting a shortfall for next year.
But as far as the Cape Gazette is aware, Dewey Beach Police Department is the only one that publicly revolted against its town manager, which ultimately led to a $100,000 buyout. It’s the only department that solicited the help of the town’s largest business owner to write the initial complaint sparking the revolt.
It’s the only department where an officer’s town-issued gun was stolen from his unlocked vehicle. It’s the only department that used a federal military surplus program as a self-described slush fund, with little or no accountability on how those funds were used during the decade-plus participation in the program.
The biggest difference between Dewey, and in this case Lewes, is that Spell made his requests in a public meeting, facing questions and responding. In Dewey, no police officer has appeared at a town meeting since September 2016, when three were honored for their fiery rescue of the woman who ran her car into Ed’s Chicken.
Town council deserves credit for hiring former Dover City Manager Scott Koenig as the next town manager. He will likely demand a higher standard of professionalism at town hall.
But let's be clear: Dewey’s police department issues are unique to Dewey.