New Castle County touted a number of new programs at the Hockessin Police Athletic League on Monday – the first of five community meetings being held across the county in the coming days.
About 100 residents attended the two-hour meeting, which featured presentations from the county police, paramedics, Department of Emergency Management, Department of Emergency Communications, Department of Land Use and the Office of Community Governing.
Police Chief Elmer Setting said the county had embarked on a new targeted policing system called TAPS (Targeted Analytical Policing System) which allows officers to analyze crime patterns to target enforcement in hot spots during specific times. The targeted enforcement allows the department to free up those officers from patrolling those areas throughout the day, he said.
"Over the years, we had drifted into a 911-driven police department," Setting said. "Those have failed because whatever you're responding to is already done. The moment to stop it has already passed."
According to crime data offered by the county police, crime is down 11 percent so far this year over 2012 levels. And it's down 13 percent in the police department's Western District, which includes Hockessin.
Another part of reducing crime is enhancing the county's 911 service. Emergency Communications Chief Jeffrey Miller said the county has used grant money to enroll in what's called the Smart911 program. The program, which is free to New Castle County residents, allows residents to register information about them and their families that is automatically transmitted to emergency dispatchers when a 911 call is made. Miller said the data can range from descriptions of yourself or family members, which could be helpful in a missing persons case or if a child gets lost, to medical information that could help paramedics better respond to a health emergency, when a caller may not be fully alert. For more information, visit www.Smart911.com.
On the subject of paramedics, Emergency Medical Services Chief Larry Tan said his department is currently recruiting new paramedics through Oct. 7. Candidates are only required to have a high school diploma or GED and have three years of licensed driving experience. The county pays for the training program in exchange for a five-year commitment from prospective candidates.
Tan said his department is holding informational sessions each of the next two Saturdays, at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at the Paul J. Sweeney Public Safety Building in New Castle. Additional sessions are slated for next Thursday, at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
"Our philosophy is we hire people for attitude and train them for skill," Tan said.