Wilmington police officers will take weekly walks through the city to engage with residents and distribute information about social services, Mayor Mike Purzycki announced Wednesday.
The initiative aims to address unmet social service and public health needs in Wilmington neighborhoods, according to the mayor.
“Our police officers have demonstrated time and time again that if they have an opportunity, beyond their law enforcement duties, to do something for someone in the community, they don’t hesitate to assist by making social service referrals,” Purzycki said in a news release. “This new initiative solidifies the WPD’s community service philosophy and I couldn’t be prouder of our officers.”
Beginning Thursday, Oct. 27, and on future Thursdays from 1 to 2 p.m., Wilmington police officers will partner with social service providers and walk through different areas each week.
According to the news release, staff from the Community Partner Support Unit Impact Team will distribute information and connect residents with resources offered by the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services.
They will be joined by the Porter Center Public Health Clinic, which will offer additional resources and support.
Officers will also be accompanied by members of the Delaware Community Response Teams, which are managed by the Delaware Office of Health Crisis Response and work to provide information and resources — including NARCAN — to help reduce opioid addiction and overdose deaths in Delaware.
The walk locations will be determined by Wilmington Police sector captains and will cover blocks in their respective areas where there has been an observed need for social services and public health support.
As the initiative continues, organizers will work jointly to identify additional locations where interactions would benefit more members of the public, according to the city.
“We fully recognize that not all challenges are best met by a traditional law enforcement response,” said police Chief Robert Tracy.
“Our officers routinely assist and support those experiencing a range of issues, and this partnership will formalize our strong working relationships with social service and public health providers,” Tracy said. “We look forward to these weekly opportunities to engage with Wilmingtonians and connect them with support from our partner organizations.”
The first community outreach walk will take place Thursday, Oct. 27, in the area of West 7th Street and North Washington Street.
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