Dewey Considers Purchase of Jail on Wheels - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dewey Considers Purchase of Jail on Wheels

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DEWEY BEACH, Del. - The town of Dewey Beach has long lamented over the doubled-edged sword that is summer travel to their area. It brings in thousands of dollars in economic business, but it also leads to the rowdy crowds that cause problems for nearby residents. 

On Tuesday, the Committee on Public Safety offered some suggestions as to how to curb this rowdiness in a unique way. Essentially, the committee is calling for a portable jail cell. The official name for one of these cells is a "Portable Detention Unit." Mayor Diane Hanson told WBOC that these cells are essentially "jails on wheels." 

"The benefit would be that we could arrest people that are disorderly," she said. "Right now we do that, but we have limited facilities." 

Currently Dewey Beach has one jail cell at town hall, capable of holding just six people at a time. Hanson said that this new mobile cell would open up more space. 

The committee can only make suggestions. It's now up to the commissioners, as to whether or not they want to ask the police department to look into pricing. The committee is calling for either the purchase or the leasing of this device. 

The town has not started it's search for these devices, but a quick look at the online market shows a great variety of PDUs, from open-grated ones, where anyone can see who is inside, to more private ones. Hanson said that this change is necessary to deal with the increasingly rowdy crowds. 

"It's the tale of two cities," she said. "You have the ocean and you have the bay." 

On the bayside, where many of the bars are located, Hanson said that drunk visitors have created many problems, from noise to fighting. 

Tourist Shawn Patterson said he had his concerns about the potential purchase. He said it would be too harsh of a punishment to publicly drive people through the town. 

"I could understand being a resident here and not wanting that in your backyard," he said of all the partying. "But I think that's the reputation Dewey has. And that's why a lot of people come down here." 

At the Starboard, bartenders and waiters were hard at work Wednesday morning. Owner Steve Montgomery said he was on board with the new devices, if it meant removing those who are too drunk and disorderly. 

"I've always been.. get the bad people off the streets," he said. "We have a lot of people who come to Dewey who have a great time. 90 whatever percent are here to have a great time. It's the idiots that are causing trouble. Get them out of here."

The committee also recommended strengthening the enforcement of the town's disorderly house ordinance. As of now the ordinance dictates that homeowners will get one warning. On the second visit from police, the residents will be fined $500. On the third visit, the resident can be evicted from their home.  
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