Special Enforcement Division
The Special Enforcement Division is under the command of Lieutenant Dennis Aniunas and consists of the Traffic Unit, Special Operations Unit (including the K9 officers), and the Animal Control Officer. Lt. Aniunas also oversees the administration of extra-duty assignments.
The Traffic Unit is responsible for the investigation of serious and fatal collisions; developing and implementing enforcement plans in response to complaints; and, the planning and execution of large scale traffic control for events. In addition, the Traffic Unit maintains technologies used by various elements of the department for traffic enforcement. The Traffic Unit is comprised of four officers.
When a motor vehicle collision results in a fatality, the resulting investigation to determine the circumstances leading up to the collision as well as the mechanics of the collision itself, is intensive with respect to manpower and resources. Two of the four officers assigned to the Traffic Unit are Collision Reconstructionists, and the remaining two officers have received advanced collision training.
Prioritizing enforcement initiatives requires a balance between locations that are identified by collision statistics vs. locations that are affecting a quality of life or presenting a perceived danger. The Traffic Unit conducts “maintenance” enforcement throughout Newark to maintain a presence and encourage vehicle operators to maintain awareness as they drive through town. Typically, this type of enforcement takes place on roadways that exhibit higher collision numbers from year-to-year. In addition, the Traffic Unit endeavors to respond to reported concerns outside of the maintenance areas. The Traffic Unit is also responsible for the review and approval of red light citations issued through the Electronic Red Light Safety Program administered by DelDOT. In the past year, 4068 citations were reviewed. 3959 (97.25%) were approved and sent on to violators, while 109 (2.75%) were rejected and resulted in no action. A member of the Traffic Unit attends court one day each month for trials based on automated red light citations.
Traffic Control & Community Outreach
The Traffic Unit maintains three Harley Davidson Police motorcycles for enforcement and traffic response activities. Four officers in the Special Enforcement Division have completed intensive training on the operation of a police motorcycle and utilize them for daily patrol as well as special events. The Traffic Unit participated in the planning and implementation of 5 high profile funeral escorts, and another 8 escorts of various activities through Town. In addition, members of the Traffic Unit typically work a traffic response detail at major events that can have a wide-ranging effect on traffic, such as parades, New Night Downtown, Newark Fireworks, UD football games, and UD graduation.
Special Operations Unit
The Special Operations Unit’s (SOU) primary responsibility is to provide flexibility to impact specific problems as they arise in the community, based upon problem solving and community policing principles. This is accomplished through variable work hours and unconventional investigation and patrol assignments. SOU is the primary unit tasked with bicycle patrol and it also houses our K9 officers. There are six officers assigned to SOU.
The following is a list of notable events/programs that SOU organized or participated in during 2017:
- SOU facilitates a Cooperating Underage Witness (CUW) Program, which utilizes adults 18 – 20 years old to conduct compliance checks on establishments that sell alcohol in the City. During a joint operation with Delaware Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement, five restaurants sold alcohol to an underage CUW. This resulted in points being assessed from the City’s Special Use Permit points system and the sellers were criminally cited.
- SOU partnered with the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) to put on several “bicycle rodeos” at camps during the summer months. DelDOT provided a safety video for campers to watch as well as bicycles and other training equipment, which were used to set up a course demonstrating the safety skills that were taught by SOU officers.
- One of SOU’s officers (Corporal Saunders) is a certified child safety seat technician. During 2017, Cpl. Saunders conducted several car seat safety checks (open to the public) to ensure that families’ car seats are properly installed in their vehicles.
- SOU hosted the Phillie Phanatic at the City Community Policing Center on E. Main Street. The event was intended to create positive interaction with residents and officers (and the Phillie Phanatic). The event expanded into “foot patrol” with the Phanatic engaging the entire East Main Street community.
- SOU continued with their anti-shoplifting initiative in January, November, and December 2017. SOU worked with City retail establishments to deter and arrest shoplifters, leading to many additional arrests including drug and gun charges.
- SOU is tasked with conducting alcohol and order maintenance enforcement in the City throughout the year. This often entails SOU meeting with residents that are regularly reporting disturbances and meeting with tenants and/or landlords of “problem” properties to try and correct the situation. SOU made over 215 order maintenance related arrests in 2017.
- SOU planned and participated in National Night Out on Academy Street along with partner agencies. National Night Out is a community – public safety awareness raising event that occurs nationally on an annual basis. SOU oversaw the operations of the event, coordinating with vendors, officers, and other agencies.
SOU currently has one K9 team, Cpl. Stevens – K9 Varg, assigned to their unit. K9 Peti was retired in September 2017 due to environmental issues he was not able to overcome. K9 Kody retired in January of 2018 for medical reasons. Cpl. Stevens and K9 Varg attended training through the Delaware State Police K9 program and were certified in December 2017. K9 Varg is a dual purpose police K9, meaning he is trained in patrol and narcotics detection. Cpl. Stevens routinely give K9 demonstrations to local schools and at special events. In 2017, the K9 officers and their partners participated in 16 demonstrations throughout the year.
Some other notable activities of the K9 officers in 2017 include:
- K9 Peti was called to assist with a track after a vehicle struck a local church causing extensive damage to the structure. The driver fled the scene of the collision, but was subsequently located behind a nearby residence by K9 Peti. The driver was charged with Driving Under the Influence and other offenses.
- K9 Kody was deployed during a joint NPD/DEA investigation. K9 Kody conducted a narcotics scan of a vehicle and, after Kody alerted to narcotics being present, 7 kilograms of cocaine were located.
- K9 Peti assisted the Delaware State Police with a robbery that occurred in the Salem Village Square Shopping Center. K9 Peti conducted a lengthy track and located a subject matching the suspect description. The suspect was taken into custody and a large knife was found in his waistband. He was subsequently charged with robbery.
- Both K9 teams obtained National Police Canine Association certifications in patrol, tracking, and narcotics detection.
Animal Control Officer
The Animal Control Officer (Donna Vickers) is dedicated to protecting and preserving the well-being of animals, both domestic and wild. The Animal Control Officer responds to a variety of animal related complaints, including: bites, fighting, abuse, neglect, sick, lost, found, aggressive animal behavior, wildlife encounters, trapping, and noise complaints.
- Wildlife Nuisance Trapping: The Animal Control Officer is State Certified to trap wildlife, and she is available to provide humane wildlife trapping and removal of nuisance animals on a case by case basis.
- Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return: The Animal Control Officer participates in a state run Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return which improves the lives of feral cats by reducing aggression, spraying, fighting, roaming and breeding. Feral cats are not socialized to humans and cannot be adopted into indoor homes. Therefore, TNVR allows them to live out their lives in nature where they already exist.
- Foot Patrol: The Animal Control Officer conducts foot patrol regularly in City parks and on City trails to help educate the public on animal related issues and enforce animal ordinances.
- Events: The Animal Control Officer regularly attends special events throughout the year to inform and educate the public on animal issues. Some of these events are: National Night Out, Kids Safe Camp, Newbark Pawlooza, and rabies clinics.
- Calls for Service: In 2017 the police department responded to a total of 471 animal related calls.