The New Castle County, Delaware, Police Department works closely with community leaders to address issues of concern to its 540,000 residents.
Captain Quinton Watson, Director of Training and Administrative Services Commander, is passionate about efficiency and accessibility within the 370 sworn men and women of the agency.
An Accessible Department for a Diverse Community
In New Castle County, each officer dispatched to handle a complaint — excluding Part 1 crimes like murders, rapes, or strong armed robberies — remains on the case until it is resolved or otherwise cleared. This ensures a single officer is assigned to the investigation whom victims can contact with questions regarding their case. “It lessens confusion for the victims about who is handling their cases,” said Captain Watson. “We strive to maintain a close service-oriented relationship with citizens instead of just reacting to complaints.”
Captain Watson is especially enthusiastic about his agency’s efforts to reach out to the county’s ever-increasing Hispanic community. “From a cultural perspective, some segments of our Latin/Hispanic community are not necessarily open to police intervention. We know some Hispanic crime victims avoid calling police to report a crime for fear of us checking their immigration status,” said Captain Watson. “We have worked very hard to break down such barriers by assigning one of our Hispanic police officers to our local Latin American Community Center. This officer’s work has gone a long way in helping us forge closer relationships within this community through neighborhood outreach programs.”
Keeping Up to Date with Efficient Technology
The department has developed a highly localized, high-tech internal portal system that acts as a newspaper of significant internal and external activities. “When an officer begins their shift, they need only log into their laptop and can see all pending subpoenas, high crime alerts, information passed on from previous shifts, department memorandums, even loitering warnings issued to subjects in high-crime areas. It eliminates the need for a lot of paper,” said Captain Watson.
The captain is also plugged in to IACP Net’s national network of policies and procedures. For example, he was able to find information about Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) systems using the Quest-Response service. “The ACLU discovered recently that some police agencies didn’t have policies about how long to keep or purge captured license plate numbers,” noted Captain Watson. “Some agencies were being served with FOIA requests. We wanted to be proactive, so I put a Quest on IACP Net about it. Some agencies with ALPR policies responded with copies of policies and contact phone numbers if we had additional questions.”
Captain Watson is passionate about responding to Quests posted by other IACP Net members as well. “If I’m going to take a lot from IACP Net, I want to give back — answering Quests is one way to help the network grow. Many agencies have also called or emailed about our policies that are posted on IACP Net and I was able to help them strengthen or create a policy for their agency”
Strong Protocols Make Strong Departments
Captain Watson notes that the New Castle County Police Department does a great job investigating officer-involved shootings at the scene, but wanted to become more consistent in how they did certain things afterwards. “We were interviewing involved officers at varying times — sometimes an hour after the incident, sometimes a couple of days later. A lack of set guidelines left involved officers with questions regarding their status,” said the captain. “I decided to get to work on this using IACP Net. There is a wealth of great information from different departments on IACP Net. We were able to take pieces from other departments’ policies as well as craft a Public Safety Statement, consisting of eight to nine questions that we immediately ask the involved officer.”
Using IACP Net, the agency was able to put together a post-police-shooting process that was more consistent, orderly, and clearly understood by officers. “I believe in strong policies — which makes it difficult for attorneys to challenge department operations, thus reducing the need for lengthy litigations or precedent-setting rulings from the courts,” said Captain Watson. “I’ve seen nothing better to assist with policy creation. IACP Net is accessible from your desktop computer with a few keystrokes hooked into a vast catalog of policies, research papers, periodicals, and other police-related information.”