Chief Jerry Stokes 90 Day Experiment with 5 Patrolmen on Foot in 5 Key Neighborhoods. Does Anyone Remember the West End Substation?

Posted on June 23, 2017

Steve Mensing, Editor

♦ Recently Salisbury’s Chief of Police Jerry Stokes proposed a 90 day experiment involving inserting 5 patrolmen on foot in 5 key communities in an effort to reduce crime and raise citizen satisfaction with the Salisbury Police.  The five communities proposed for this foot patrol experiment were the West End, Fairview Heights, Brooklyn South Square, Park Avenue, and Fulton Heights.  These are 5 communities under siege.   There are many others.

After 90 days this foot patrol program will be evaluated and expanded to included other communities.  Stokes dropped scientific sounding words like “stratified policing” involving an “evidence-based policing strategy” designed to reduce crime through “geographic ownership” of communities and problem-solving.  Even the mention of a “Temple University study” was attached to ideas put forward by Chief Stokes.

The BS buzzer hurt my ears.  I’ve heard plenty of allusions to science in Salisbury in regards to economic development and the alleged vibrancy of the Downtown swamped with vacant storefronts and the blighted South Main Badlands.

Think about the 5 proposed foot patrols. Is this any different than Ex-Chief Rory Collins’s West End Substation with an officer going on occasional walks in the neighborhood? That experiment was never acceptable to the folks living there.  Collins and City Hall were out of touch with the West End.  If Collins and City Hall knew what was going on, they should’ve known that people who showed up at the substation or were seen talking with the officer would’ve been viewed as a “snitch”.  Gang members and their friends are everywhere–they don’t miss a thing when someone goes to a foot patrolman or to a substation.  Neighbors talk too.  If someone gossips that they saw you chatting up a foot patrolman you could wind up in a police bulletin as being the victim of a “shooting into an occupied property” or even get your hacienda torched.

The other challenges are that foot patrols are not an efficient deployment of officers especially in a badly understaffed police department.  An officer walking the streets can’s get to a crime scene in a hurry like a patrol car if a 911 dispatch goes out. And heaven forbid a foot patrolman gets targeted for a drive-by during “gang initiation”.  It’s happens in other cities.

We understand that Salisbury Police Chief Herring started mandatory foot patrols when he was here. It didn’t impact much.

A lot of folks in Salisbury don’t trust the present Police Chief anymore than they did Ex-Chief Rory Collins.  After all Stokes allegedly claimed:

• That our police are getting substantial raises and yet when we view the numbers for the alleged raises they are non-competitive with other agencies.

• The Chief’s claims for raising the numbers of police.  Is he including retirements in the coming year, the numbers of officers we had back in 2007, or the fact that many present officers have put in at other law enforcement agencies and are waiting for calls?  And unforeseen firings?

• The Chief claimed that crime is down, but failed to mention they lack sufficient officers to answer all the calls.  No police show up–no police report.  Or that insufficient numbers of patrol cars can mean lag time in answering a call.  Often persons can’t stick around long in a parking lot at night because its dangerous.

Foot patrols are not a solution with a poorly staffed police department.

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