By looking to its past, the Dover (N.H.) Police Department has successfully adapted to the challenges of policing today. The old- fashioned ideas of working with the community, assigning officers to neighborhoods, asking for citizen volunteers to work side by side with police personnel, and even bringing back horse patrols have greatly improved the quality of law enforcement services for those living, working in or visiting the Garrison City.
Way Back When
Long known as the "Garrison City" because of its past - when thick-walled 17th century wooden homes, called Garrisons, protected its citizens from harm - the City of Dover, New Hampshire, no longer looks to garrison homes for protection, but to its proactive police force.
Dover, the first settlement in New Hampshire, was founded in 1623 and is located eight miles inland from the New Hampshire seacoast. Although Dover's police history dates from 1835, it has kept up with the times, and was actually the first police department in the state accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) in 1988.
Here and Now
The Dover Police department is made up of 54 sworn officers and has 27 civilian employees. Several bureaus under two divisions make up the department. The Field Operations Division consists of patrol, the Communications Bureau, animal control and the Traffic Bureau. The Support Services Division includes the Records Bureau, the Special Investigations Bureau, training/personnel/supply, the Legal Bureau and the Community Outreach Bureau.
Although considered a medium-sized department, DPD also has a crime laboratory, a 10-man Special Response Team (SRT) that includes Dover firefighters/EMT's, officers assigned to a regional task force for undercover drug work, a K-9 officer, IAI-recognized crime scene personnel, an Accident Reconstruction Team, detectives, and a strong anti-domestic violence program that includes a two-man stalking unit, victim advocates and a program to track stalkers out on bail with a GPS system. Senior volunteers also work side by side with Department personnel in records and assist in AARP safe-driver programs.
In addition to being nationally accredited (the department recently received its fourth accreditation award from CALEA), the Dover Police Department has been recognized for its proactive stance against crime and involving the community.
Crime and the Community
Dover's crime rate has fallen over the years and no doubt part of the success is because of community involvement. Criminal Justice majors from a local college are part of a volunteer "patrol" that focuses on the downtown river walk and are provided cell phones to call in any suspicious activity they may encounter. Horse patrols were also brought back in 1995 and two officers are assigned to the DPD Mounted Unit, which patrols the downtown area as well. Community-based officers are also assigned to neighborhoods as Liaison Officers.
One neighborhood that has greatly benefited from the partnership is the public housing development known as Mineral and Whittier Park. Two officers are exclusively assigned to the neighborhood and are responsible for all investigations, follow-up and crime prevention. They also conduct athletic leagues in conjunction with an after-school "Homework Lab."
"Because of our partnership with the Dover Police, we have turned a high crime and drug infested public housing area into one of the safest neighborhoods in the city," said Jack Buckley, executive director of the Dover Housing Authority.
In addition to the DARE program, the Dover Police Department organized a comprehensive anti-drug program. This includes tobacco prevention, an innovative parent program, and one of the largest after-school programs in the City. Known as Youth to Youth (Y2Y), the anti-drug program for students in grades 6-12 is led by department officers assigned to the Community Outreach Bureau.
"Y2Y is the best youth program we have ever done. It provides an excellent follow-up to the DARE program and gives kids a chance to take action to reduce drug use, and to influence younger kids and their peers not to use tobacco, alcohol and other drugs," said Captain Dana Mitchell, Support Services Commander and a certified DARE Officer. "In 1992 we had 12 students. Today, over 200 students take part in several weekly meetings and events that promote a drug-free lifestyle."
All the Newest Gizmos and Contraptions
Technology keeps the department marching ahead with its 'back to basics' policies. All marked DPD cruisers have laptop computers and video cameras and the department is fully computerized. The Dover Police Website(ci.dover.nh.us) keeps open communication with the city residents who browse through its several different sites that range from department history to job applications, events and even lists of residents who have been recently arrested for domestic violence.
DPD also maintains several different specialty vehicles including a Harley Davidson police motorcycle, a 22' Zodiac boat that can be used to patrol the city rivers and a "Peacekeeper" armored personnel carrier that is used by SRT. In addition, the department has fully equipped SRT and crime scene vans.
"Our commitment is to maintain a high quality of life in our community," said Police Chief William W. Fenniman, Jr.
One thing is certain. By stepping back into the past and bringing the community back as partners, Dover PD's success will continue into the
Dover (N.H.) Police Department At A Glance
Service Area Population: 28,000
Square Miles: 27
Sworn Officers: 54
Female Officers: 3
Civilian Employees: 27
Salary (Starting Police Officer): $30,472
Benefits: Medical, Dental, Educational Incentive, 20-Year Retirement
Recruitment Information: 603-742-4646ȧ
Off. Mark A. Leno, Jr. has served with the Dover PD since 1984. As "unofficial historian," he's writing Dover PD's history right now.