State, City Leaders Announce Group Violence Intervention (GVI) Project in Wilmington

Social service agencies will partner with law enforcement to prevent gun violence

WILMINGTON, Del. – State of Delaware social service agencies will partner with law enforcement to prevent gun violence in the City of Wilmington under a Group Violence Intervention (GVI) project announced by state and city leaders on Tuesday.

Governor John Carney joined Wilmington Mayor Michael Purzycki, Attorney General Kathy Jennings, Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy, and Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Kara Walker to announce their shared commitment to launching the evidence-based GVI strategy in Wilmington.   

Evidence shows that gun violence is concentrated among a small number of people at very high risk for both victimization and violent offending. The GVI strategy is intended to help these high-risk individuals avoid involvement in the criminal justice system, keep them safe, stabilize their lives, and create accountability for violence. DHSS, the Delaware Department of Correction, and the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth & Their Families are among the agencies that will provide intervention services under the partnership.

“For any city to be successful, it needs to be safe,” said Governor John Carney. “Under the leadership of Mayor Purzycki and Chief Tracy, we’ve seen a significant reduction in gun violence in our city. But – as there are in all cities – there are still communities that are disproportionately impacted by gun violence in their neighborhoods. Those shootings traumatize children and families, and tear apart entire communities. We know that this gun violence is concentrated among a small group of people who are at very high risk for offending – but also at a very high risk for being victims of gun violence. We believe we can make a real difference if we are able to reach those at highest risk, and help them avoid involvement in the criminal justice system, keep them safe, and stabilize their lives. Thank you to Mayor Purzycki, Chief Tracy, Attorney General Jennings, Professor David Kennedy and many others for their partnership on this important work.”

“Wilmington is making significant gains regarding public safety,” said Wilmington Mayor Michael Purzycki. “We are a safer City today because we are policing the City differently, and that difference is largely because of the trust that has been built between the police department and our citizens. Chief Tracy has introduced new and effective layers to our policing methods in Wilmington and today we add another layer that can continue to improve lives and further reduce crime. My thanks to the Governor, to the Health and Social Services Secretary and to our criminal justice leaders for embracing this effort and to David Kennedy, Chief Tracy and former Chief Cummings who are deeply invested in making sure this initiative works for all of us.”

“This is a new day in Wilmington’s efforts to curtail violence in our neighborhoods,” said Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “Through this initiative, we are recognizing the social and economic dynamics that so often drive violent crime, and we are disrupting those dynamics at their source. This program has shown remarkable promise in sharply reducing group violence and I am committed to its missions: protecting public safety, addressing the causes of anger and hopelessness that exist in our most underserved communities, and providing meaningful alternatives to those who would build a better life for themselves.”

The intergovernmental initiative will bring together state-level social service agencies with the Wilmington Police Department, the Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and community leaders in an effort to further and more significantly reduce homicide and shooting incidents in Wilmington. Intervention will be based on frontline knowledge, and real-time data on violence and individuals who face the highest risk of violence.

The GVI work will be led by Bobby Cummings, the former Wilmington Police Chief who has been appointed Director of Group Violence at the Department of Health and Social Services. The National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College, led by Professor David Kennedy, will provide technical assistance.

“Over the past several years, the Wilmington Police Department has embraced a range of proven, evidence-based policing strategies, with focused deterrence being key,” said Wilmington Police Chief Robert J. Tracy. “Implementing Group Violence Intervention – the next phase of our layered, comprehensive approach – carries the promise of achieving continued reductions in violent crime, while simultaneously offering support and wraparound services to those who embrace an alternative to engaging in gun violence.”

“We’re extremely excited to be working with Delaware and Wilmington to prevent homicide and gun violence,” said David Kennedy, Director of the National Network for Safe Communities at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “We’ve known and worked with Chief Tracy for years, and the commitment of the Governor’s Office puts Delaware amongst a small but growing number of states making an executive commitment to evidence-based public safety approaches. This work saves lives, keeps people out of the justice system, and builds trust between police and communities. We’re honored to be part of it.”

“As leaders, we all have a responsibility to alter the cycle of poverty, trauma and violence in order to keep individuals and families safe and healthy,” said Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services. “The newly appointed Director of Group Violence Intervention in the Department of Health and Social Services will have the resources and the staffing support to meet the social services needs of the small number of people in Wilmington who are at a very high risk for both victimization and for violent offending.”

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Governor Carney Announces Interactive Website for Opportunity Zones Initiative

New tool to attract private investments in economically-distressed areas

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney announced on Thursday a new interactive website highlighting Delaware’s Opportunity Zones across the state. Opportunity Zones are an economic development tool designed to attract private investment and create economic opportunity in economically-distressed communities across Delaware.

In April 2018, Governor Carney announced 25 census tracts as Opportunity Zones in which communities and economically-distressed properties across Delaware could see additional private sector investment. These Opportunity Zones were designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Private investments in Opportunity Zones may qualify for tax incentives.

“Strengthening neighborhoods and communities across Delaware helps improve our economy, stabilize families, and make our state an even better place to live, work and visit,” said Governor Carney. “This Opportunity Zones resource highlights the options in Delaware for additional private investment in areas where it can have the most impact – in economically-distressed communities.”

The interactive website also features a visual StoryMap for visitors to explore Delaware’s Opportunity Zones and learn more about project sites. The website was developed in collaboration with the Office of the Governor, the Delaware Division of Small Business, the Office of State Planning Coordination, the Government Information Center, and the Delaware Prosperity Partnership.

“Opportunity Zones are going to help expand the amount of available capital for developers and businesses, providing them with the resources they need to be successful,” said Damian DeStefano, Director of the Division of Small Business. “We look forward to helping entrepreneurs access Opportunity Zones, especially as a way to help strengthen the state’s downtowns.”

Delaware’s Opportunity Zone tracts include neighborhoods in Wilmington; properties along the Route 9 Corridor in New Castle; areas in Dover, Milford, Georgetown, and Seaford, including the Seaford Nylon Capital Shopping Center; the STAR campus in Newark; and aging industrial sites along the Delaware River in northern New Castle County that are eligible for additional development and cleanup under the Coastal Zone Act.

“Delaware features a tremendous range of Opportunity Zones statewide. These designated areas provide truly attractive investment opportunities that both can benefit investors and build or enhance more vibrant communities,” explained Delaware Prosperity Partnership President Kurt Foreman.

Many of the designated Opportunity Zone tracts are located within Downtown Development Districts, where investors may already qualify for state investment rebates, local tax abatements, affordable bridge loans, and other state and local incentives. Since the downtown program launched in 2015, roughly $24 million in state-funded investment rebates has leveraged $420 million of additional public and private investment in Dover, Georgetown, Harrington, Laurel, Milford, Seaford, Smyrna and Wilmington. Governor Carney’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget included an additional $8.5 million for the program.

The new website also will serve as a resource for the upcoming Opportunity Zone Summit on December 5 at the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus. The Summit, hosted in partnership with the Biden Institute and the Office of the Governor, will engage government officials, developers, investors and business leaders in discussions about Delaware’s Opportunity Zones.

Attendees can register for the summit by clicking here.

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The Riverside Neighborhood named as the 19th Purpose Built Community in the United States

The goal of this community-based effort is neighborhood revitalization in order to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty by creating pathways out of poverty

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki today joined with Governor John Carney, County Executive Matthew Meyer, City Council Member Zanthia Oliver, the REACH Riverside Development Corporation (RRDC or REACH Riverside) and the Wilmington Housing Authority (WHA) for a major community redevelopment announcement. Expanding on the City’s commitment to partner with local neighbors and community leaders to revitalize Wilmington’s disadvantaged areas, the Mayor said he hopes today’s announcement will bring renewed hope and opportunity to citizens who are living and working in and around the Riverside neighborhood in northeast Wilmington.

Nationally renowned Purpose Built Communities, a non-profit consulting firm that works side-by-side with community leaders, residents and others to plan and implement holistic community revitalization efforts, announced today that it has designated Wilmington’s Riverside neighborhood as the 19th Purpose Built Community in the United States.

Under the Purpose Built model, REACH Riverside will work in partnership with community members and other partners to develop and implement strategies for a cradle-to-college or career education pipeline, mixed-income housing, and a community health and wellness initiative. The goals for Riverside include the development of 400 new units of high-quality, mixed-income housing, the enhancement and expansion of Kingswood Community Center’s Early Childhood education program, the addition of a high school to the East Side Charter School’s current pre-K through grade 8, and the expansion of the Kingswood Community Center facility to greatly increase access by Riverside residents to health and wellness services. Working in close collaboration with REACH Riverside is The Teen Warehouse, a partnership of more than 50 teen-serving organizations that will provide school-day and after-school health and wellness programs and services to Wilmington youths between the ages of 13 and 19.

“Today’s wonderful news follows years of research, planning and development by the City, WHA, community leaders and Riverside residents, all of whom recognize that it is time to invest in an inclusive, holistic manner to make Riverside a neighborhood of opportunity for all of its current and future residents.” said Mayor Purzycki. “We are very excited about the prospects for the future of this neighborhood and this area of the City.”

“The State of Delaware is proud to be partnering with Mayor Purzycki, other local officials, and community leaders to strengthen communities across the City of Wilmington, and ensure that resources are reaching economically-distressed communities that need those resources the most,” said Governor John Carney. “We want to make sure that everyone in Wilmington and across our state has an opportunity to succeed, and contribute to Delaware’s success. Investing in our communities will help us achieve that goal. I want to thank Mayor Purzycki and all of the community leaders involved for their leadership on this important initiative.”

In thanking those who were instrumental in making the Purpose Built Community dream become a reality, Charles McDowell, Chairman of the REACH Riverside Board of Directors, reflected on the project’s history up to this point. “Five years ago, we visited the country’s first Purpose Built Community in Atlanta and made a commitment on the spot to bring that level of progress to Wilmington,” said McDowell. “We thank the Purpose Built organization for recognizing the hard work and commitment that has brought us together today, and the willingness and eagerness of countless partners and friends to walk beside us on this journey.”

Purpose Built services, which are provided at no cost, are tailored to each community’s needs and the dynamics of the neighborhood they are working to revitalize. With a goal of breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty, Purpose Built uses best practices to guide neighborhood revitalization by creating pathways out of poverty for the lowest-income residents, and building strong, economically diverse communities.

Mayor Purzycki praised the unique, multi-party public private partnership that is working together to implement the Purpose Built Communities model in Riverside. He said that although there will be numerous organizations, groups and individuals involved in completing the estimated ten-year Purpose Built process, four lead entities have entered into a formal agreement to represent what are referred to as the “four pillars” of the Purpose Built model—housing, education, community wellness and leadership by a community “quarterback.” The entities are:

  • The REACH Riverside Renaissance Development Corporation, branded as REACH Riverside (Redevelopment, Education And Community Health), which will take the lead on the project, serving as the “Community Quarterback.” Comprised of community leaders who have the skills, connections and reputation to attract the necessary community partners and funding, their sole job is to work with the community and partners to manage the overall process to ensure that all parties are pursuing common goals. Logan Herring, who currently serves as Executive Director of the Kingswood Community Center, will transition from his role at Kingswood to become the CEO of the REACH Riverside project.
  • The Wilmington Housing Authority, which owns the existing Riverside public housing project, will work in partnership with Pennrose, LLC, a nationally recognized development company that specializes in mixed-income, affordable housing, to develop the high-quality mixed income housing in the Riverside neighborhood.
  • Kingswood Community Center will play a central role as landowner for a portion of the new housing and the home of other project components, including early learning, senior services, and health and wellness services and other amenities needed to support a robust neighborhood.
  • East Side Charter School, which borders the north end of Riverside, will be the foundation of the education pillar and will lead the establishment of a “cradle to college and career education pipeline” to serve the neighborhood children.

John Hill, Executive Director of the Wilmington Housing Authority, said the WHA is proud to be a partner in this effort. “The Riverside revitalization initiative provides the opportunity to reinvent this neighborhood with services that include mixed-income housing, livable space, high-quality education and health services,” said Hill. “What we achieve here can serve as a model for other distressed neighborhoods in our city.”

The Purpose Built Communities model, which emerged out of a neighborhood revitalization initiative in the late 1990’s in Atlanta, Georgia, has demonstrated the importance of private sector leadership in breaking the cycle of poverty in neighborhoods that have long suffered with low levels of educational achievement, high unemployment, crime and blight. Purpose Built is currently working to achieve these goals with a total of 20 network member communities throughout the United States.

“We have been impressed with the effort underway in Wilmington ever since the Mayor, Charlie and their team first came to Atlanta,” said Purpose Built Communities President Carol Naughton. “Their commitment to understanding what works best for Riverside, its families, and its children, their willingness to partner with the community, and their ability to provide leadership to bring the necessary partners and resources to the table will make a great difference for the neighborhood and its residents.”


Delaware Fights Human Trafficking

Dover – Legislation championed by Attorney General Biden, national authorities on the law, and state legislative leaders which strengthens the fight against human trafficking was enacted in a signing ceremony this afternoon in Legislative Hall.

Senate Bill 197, crafted by Senate President Pro Tempore Patricia M. Blevins, D-Elsmere, and Rep. Helene Keeley, D-Wilmington South, in cooperation with Attorney General Beau Biden’s office and the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), increases criminal penalties for those that engage in human trafficking and provide greater protections for its victims.  The bill passed the State House and Senate unanimously earlier this spring.

“We’ve taken an important step to better protect the vulnerable and voiceless victims of human trafficking,” Attorney General Biden said.  “It ensures that resources are made available to victims of this unconscionable crime to help them heal and move forward with their lives, and it expands penalties to punish the perpetrators and those who benefit from trafficking.  I want to specially recognize Senator Blevins and Representative Keeley for their leadership in crafting and passing this legislation.”

Human trafficking is now the second fastest growing crime in the United States, and the Delaware legislation provides a comprehensive approach in the fight against human trafficking.  The bill:

  • Sharpens the state’s provisions that penalize the criminal conduct at the core of human trafficking and punishes those who knowingly benefit by using human-trafficking victims.
  • Empowers Courts to order that traffickers forfeit property used in or gained by trafficking.
  • Provides the protections and remedies that victims need to recover and rebuild their lives.
  • Creates a Human Trafficking Coordinating Council to develop a comprehensive anti-human-trafficking plan, evaluate data, effectuate interagency cooperation, and other important tasks.

“With Gov. Markell signing this Uniform Act into law, Delaware leads the nation in the fight against modern slavery,” said Delaware Uniform Law Commissioner and ULC Immediate Past-President Michael Houghton.  “Attorney General Biden, Sen. Blevins and Rep. Keeley have been exceptional partners in the fight to punish traffickers and provide resources and dignity to the survivors of trafficking–there is much left to do, but Delaware is leading the way.”

“Many of us don’t realize how frequently people of all ages fall victim to human trafficking right here in the United States, including Delaware, or understand the lasting and damaging impact that it has on individuals and their families,” Sen. Blevins said. “Not only does this bill strengthen our ability to penalize those who carry out these crimes, but it provides protections for victims, so that they are not criminalized for acts which they were forced to commit. Also, through the Council established under this bill, Delaware will continue to coordinate and develop rehabilitative services to help victims cope mentally and physically after their abuse, and get them back on their feet.”

“It is unthinkable that in 2014 we are talking about 2 million people annually being bought and sold around the world. While that number is much smaller in the United States, we must do everything in our power to put an end to this inhuman practice,” said Rep. Helene M. Keeley, D-Wilmington South, the bill’s chief House sponsor. “In Delaware, vulnerable boys, girls and women are being coerced into prostitution and are victimized and abused. No person should be treated like this and we as a society can’t tolerate it. This is a comprehensive approach, toughening penalties on those who commit and profit from the crime while protecting the victims whose lives are shattered by this act.”

Delaware’s Human Trafficking legislation is based in part on the Uniform Act on the Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking.  The Uniform Act was drafted and approved by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) in 2013 and endorsed by the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates in August 2013.  The Uniform Act has been the basis for anti-human trafficking legislation in numerous states this year, including Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Virginia.  More information on this nation-wide effort can be found at www.letsendhumantrafficking.org.

A broad coalition of organizations joined the ULC in creating the Uniform Act, including the ABA, the ABA Center for Human Rights, the National Association of Attorneys General, the Polaris Project, LexisNexis, the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and other organizations committed to eradicating human trafficking.

The Uniform Law Commission is comprised of more than 350 practicing lawyers, government lawyers, judges, law professors, and lawyer-legislators who are appointed by each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to research, draft, and promote enactment of uniform state laws in areas of law where uniformity is desirable and practical.  Since 1892, the ULC has served the states and their citizens by creating uniform state laws that help families, businesses, property owners, service members, and many more.

 


New Bail Legislation: Senate Bill 36 passes in the State House of Rep.

Attorney General Beau Biden tonight applauded the State House of Representatives for passing Senate Bill 36, an amendment to the State Constitution that would protect public safety by keeping the most dangerous criminals off the streets while they await trial.

Under current law, only defendants charged with capital murder may be held without bail pending trial. SB 36 aligns Delaware law with the federal government and more than two dozen states where, if prosecutors can show a defendant is too dangerous to be released pending trial, a judge can order the defendant held without bail. Under the measure, if a defendant is ordered held without bail, a hearing to reconsider bail will be held if trial does not begin within 120 days of arrest.

“This necessary reform to our bail system will better protect Delawareans by providing law enforcement the opportunity to keep the most dangerous defendants off the streets while they await trial,” Biden said after the House passed the measure this evening.

Biden recognized the primes sponsors of the bill, Senator Robert Marshall and Representatives Helene Keeley and Larry Mitchell for their leadership in securing its passage. The State Senate passed the measure by a wide margin in July, 2013. In order for the Constitutional amendment to take effect the measure must be passed again by both chambers of the General Assembly during the next legislative session.

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