Hundreds Attend Long Neck Town Hall on Crime - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Hundreds Attend Long Neck Town Hall on Crime

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LONG NECK, Del. - After a recent rash of robberies and the formation of a community action group, hundreds came out for a town hall on crime in the Long Neck area.

Representative Ruth Briggs King held the town hall with Senators Brian Pettyjohn and Gerald Hocker, but it was the Delaware State Police who did much of the talking. They presented statistics from recent years that indicated that crime was actually down in the area, or at least crime that was reported. Police say there was a two percent decrease in crime complaints, compared to an eight and a half percent increase in crash complaints. What's more, statistics from the Troop 7 barrack--which covers part of the Long Neck area--show the amount of total complaints in Long Neck were less than half of the complaints in the Route 1 corridor. However, police say there has been a 16 percent increase in robberies. It's those crimes that have gotten people talking recently, such as Kick N' Chicken owner Charlie Pollard's decision to close his restaurant doors due to repeated robberies. 

It's those robberies that have many homeowners worried. 

"It's been an ongoing situation that we've been fighting for years," says John Matyjewicz with Long Neck Strong. "We are trying to create a safe environment for everybody." 

During Monday night's presentation, police repeatedly said they can only respond to crimes that are reported, and encouraged people to call if they see anything remotely suspicious. Matyjewicz says he believes the crime rate may be higher than police say, but says a lack of reporting may be contributing to that. He says that's something Long Neck Strong intends to help with.

"I know a lot of elderly folks will see a crime and they don't want to report it because they're scared," he tells WBOC. "I've come up with a form where they can email me and I''ll report it so [state police] get the information."

 Matyjewicz says meeting the troop commanders who serve the Long Neck area was a helpful part of the town hall as well.

After the state police presentation, audience members had an opportunity to ask questions, which ranged from how to start a neighborhood watch group to asking if state troopers stationed on road patrol could cover crime instead. For the latter, police said they respond to where they get the most calls, and statistics show those are crashes.

Rep. Ruth Briggs King says Monday's town hall was a way to get factual information out to constituents and look towards the future.

"It's making everybody engaged and involved in this because it is a larger problem in general," she says. "Do I think the crime here is huge? I think right now the perception is we could do better and I would agree we can do better and let's find a good way to do that."

Briggs King has already submitted a request to see if the county can fund more troopers to the area, and she and her fellow leaders plan to host a business safety seminar.

"Whatever we do here may be a model to another area for someone to use," she says. "Although we're concerned about here tonight, there are equal concerns in Laurel and Seaford and other areas."

Briggs King echoed many people's opinions that the drug epidemic is to blame for the increase in crime. Long Neck Strong co-founder Kristine Arway says they're committed to fighting that too, and at their Long Neck Strong meeting Wednesday night, they'll have a representative from the Connections methadone clinic in Long Neck.

"This has been an ongoing issue and it's time we address it and take care of it," she says.

Arway expressed her gratitude for the police and elected officials' service and looks forward to working with them to find long lasting solutions.

"I think we are being heard and that's what we want. We just want to be heard," she says. "We want to work with our local officials [...] but I think we have to keep going forward and we can't slow down this pace. Because if we do, we'll get pushed to the wayside."

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