On Friday, August 28th, the Dover Police Department was involved in a shooting incident involving 21-year-old Terrance Fletcher. Hours after the shooting a press conference was held to provide what limited details were available to the Dover Police Department during the preliminary stages of the investigation. A few hours after the press conference, the Dover Police Department released a press release with more information, including the crimes that Fletcher was charged with. Throughout the incident and its aftermath, the department has continued to pledge that we will be as transparent as allowed by law by releasing details as they become available and we will continue to do so.
Shortly before 1:00PM, officers from the Street Crimes Unit received a tip from a past-proven reliable informant that Fletcher was in the area of South New Street and was in possession of a handgun and provided an accurate description of his location and appearance. On that day and time, the unit consisted of one Delaware Probation and Parole officer and two Dover Police officers. They responded to the area to investigate the information they received. Those officers are highly familiar with the area and due to the nature of the call, chose to place officers on each side of the block if the suspect chose to run from the officers.
Fletcher, who at the time of this incident was on active probation, was contacted by the Probation and Parole Officer in the 100 Block of South New Street. Fletcher chose to run from the Probation and Parole officer that attempted to contact him on New Street, proceeding east through a pathway between 111 and 115 South New Street, which connects to an adjacent parking lot. A Dover Police officer, who was positioned in the parking lot of 120 South Governors Avenue, confronted Fletcher as he ran towards him. The officer saw Fletcher with a gun in his hand and fired his departmental issued service weapon, striking Fletcher once in the upper thigh. As Fletcher was struck, he threw a .38 caliber revolver, which was recovered by investigators on scene shortly after the incident. Immediately after Fletcher was struck, officers radioed for assistance and began rendering first aid. During an interview with investigators on September 1st, Fletcher admitted to possessing the handgun that is described above.
As other officers worked to secure the scene, emergency medical workers arrived and transported Fletcher to Bayhealth Kent General Hospital for treatment of a non-life threatening wound to his leg. Later in the evening, arrest warrants were obtained for Fletcher for the crimes of Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon and Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited. He was arraigned by a magistrate judge from the Justice of the Peace Court 7 while at the hospital. Fletcher was committed to the Delaware Department of Corrections on $20,000 cash bond after the arraignment. After Fletcher was committed, he was turned over to the Delaware Department of Corrections for supervision. Fletcher has since been located at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. Several media outlets have inaccurately reported that Fletcher suffered a spinal injury. The Dover Police Department was advised by medical staff that Fletcher suffered a soft tissue wound from the shot, with no bones or vital organs being struck. Fletcher is expected to be released from a prison infirmary and joining the pre-trial population at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center shortly.
The area that the shooting took place was on the north side parking lot of an adjacent daycare. Despite numerous incorrect reports in the media, there were no children outside on the playground at the time this event took place. This was also confirmed by staff working at the daycare at the time of the incident.
As officers attempted to secure the scene of the shooting and render first aid to Fletcher, a large crowd gathered in the 100 Block of South New Street, with several persons becoming disorderly and hostile towards police. Because of this, the Dover Police Department was forced to call in multiple police agencies to maintain the integrity of the incident scene and assist in the dispersing of the crowd. Despite the tensions among the growing crowd, the officers handled the situation with the poise and professionalism they are trained to use and were able to diffuse and disband the crowd while making just two arrests. As officers dealt with the hostile crowd, they were also aided by various community leaders in calming the crowd. The Dover Police Department thanks the agencies and community members that assisted in our efforts and allowed the situation to be resolved as peacefully as possible.
At this time, the incident is still an active investigation, and the Dover Police Department must treat it as such until it has been resolved. This includes a separate and impartial investigation by the Delaware Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust. The officer who fired his weapon remains on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of the investigations. This is standard department policy in officer involved shootings.
Throughout the days following the officer involved shooting, there have been many questions as to the reasons why Dover Police Department has focused on downtown areas for proactive enforcement. The downtown area has been plagued with crime, mostly committed by persons who do not reside in the area at all. A look at press releases issued about arrests in the area of concern will show that a large amount of people arrested reside outside the downtown area. It has been the primary location of quality of life crimes and issues, violent crime, and drug-related crimes and the Dover Police Department will continue to address these issues in those areas to make it a safer community.
The below heat map images are taken from the Raids Online crime mapping software program, which is available to the public via the Dover Police Department website (www.doverpolice.org/raids-online/). The heat map images show that the areas most affected by crime are in brighter colors, with red being the highest. The heat map images are based on data collected throughout 2015.
While law enforcement and crime prevention continue to be the main focus of the Dover Police Department, the department has continued to participate in community relations and continuously looks for ways to create and improve community outreach initiatives. The department has worked and met with several organizations including Neighborhood Watch programs, homeowners associations, community churches, Code Purple Homeless Shelters, various civic organizations, discussions with community leaders, participation in public forums involving race relations, and more to improve all community relations in various communities throughout the City of Dover. The Dover Police Department has received some assistance from community leaders and members to help us in meeting our goals of reducing and preventing crime in the downtown community. However, we continue to seek assistance from residents of all communities in our efforts to curb crime.
The Dover Police Department and its officers have also created or participated in programs to help citizens and build trust between the department and its citizens, including the following examples:
-G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training)
-School Resource Officers
-National Night Out
-Heroes and Helpers
-Youth Programs (DPD Youth Academy/Shell Fuel For Success)
-Charitable Giving from the Fraternal Order of Police
-Police Athletic League (Currently in the Infant Stages of Development)
-Officers involved in athletic programs
-Operation Zip Up Coat Drive
-Various Youth Outings (Fishing Trips/Trampoline Park/NASCAR Race/Indoor Play Parks)
-Various Outreach Initiatives by Dover Police Officers
Despite being hindered by a lack of manpower, the Dover Police Department has continued to participate in these programs and take proactive measures to force out the criminal element from the City of Dover. The men and women who serve on the Dover Police Department take great pride in the City of Dover and are honored to serve its citizens. We understand the enormous responsibility that police work entails, but also understand that there are times when police are forced to make difficult decisions, especially when dealing in the use of force. It is not a decision we take lightly. Our officers undergo training in the use of force on a regular basis as mandated by Dover Police Department and Council on Police Training (COPT) policies.
The Dover Police Department also understands that the public has significant interest in this incident and we will continue to be as transparent as possible throughout the course of this investigation. The Dover Police Department would like to thank the citizens of Dover for their support and patience as we continue to fulfill our promise to protect the city.
In the interest of transparency, the Dover Police Department has also included the department’s Use of Force policy and the arrest warrant for Terrance Fletcher below.
DOVER POLICE USE OF FORCE POLICY
Terrance Fletcher Arrest Warrant