By Kristen Griffith (Whetstone staff writer)
The importance of safety in Dover was recently discussed between officials of Wesley College and representatives of Dover at City Hall.
“Bottom line, we need to take the message back to students that the environment they live in is a safe one,” Mayor Robin Christiansen said. “We will not put up with anyone bothering you and throwing off your education.”
Fred Sottnick, president of the Student Government Association, Savannah Durham, SGA vice president, Wanda Anderson dean of students, Walter Beaupre, director of safety and security, and College President William Johnston, met with Christiansen, Chief of Police Paul Bernat, and President of City Council David Bonar on Sept. 24.
“I love the relationship we have with the police,” Beaupre said.
Anderson said the Dover police and Wesley security work together, and she wants the students to be safe just like she wants her own children to be safe.
“I want what is best for the students because I see them as an extension to my family,” she said.
Chief of Police Bernat said there are 93 Dover police officers, plus people who work with DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics), and “five or six” undercover officers. Most of them cover the downtown area.
Bernat said pain killers are the drug of choice near Wesley College campus downtown, each pill sells for $30 to $35. They are a gateway to heroin, he said, which is a popular drug here.
City Councilman David Bonar said, “What youngsters today do not understand is that the drugs given to them are so much more addicting.”
He used heroin as an example saying it only takes one hit to become addicted. He mentioned how hard it is to deny peer pressure, but it is best to stay away from all bad substances, including alcohol.
Bonar said that many criminals from outside Dover, including Philadelphia, come to Dover to sell drugs.
“I think one general issue is knowing where to go and not to go when off campus,” SGA president Sottnick said.
Mayor Christiansen said it is important to know the area in order to stay safe.
He also said it is necessary to mentor others who are not as mature; people need to travel together – but they should not hide in their rooms.
“We are doing everything possible to make sure your stay here is a safe one,” Christiansen said.
He said it is important to report wrong-doing.
“It is your obligation to work with the police department,” he said. “We have camera systems but they need your help.”
Bernat said there are 35 cameras working mostly in the downtown area of Dover and are purchasing 12 more.
SGA Vice President Durham asked if it was wise to call Wesley security “since they do not carry guns.”
Beaupre said they should call 911 if they feel it is necessary.
He spoke of an incident when a Wesley student called security after seeing a 5-year-old girl dragged by two other men. Beaupre called 911 and the men were taken into custody. Beaupre said they made it aware to the Wesley student that she could have called 911.
“The dispatcher will let you know if it is not an emergency,” Beaupre said.
Dover Police’s non-emergency number is 302-736-7111.
They encourage everyone to download “My PD”, a free app. It allows students to stay connected with the Dover police by viewing their Twitter feeds, submitting a tip, or commending a worthy officer. It also lets students call the Dover police department with a click of a button.
“Students should be smart, safe, and savvy,” Anderson said.
Bernat said Dover is a safe city. He said it only takes one minute for police to respond to a call.
“Let people know where you are going, and when you arrive,” Bernat said. “If you see something suspicious, call.”