Police just kept coming and coming to make arrests on Memorial Drive in New Castle County for years. It didn't seem to do any good. Now Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden wants to use the state's Nuisance Abatement Act as the best way to stop illegal activity.
On Monday, law enforcement and state leaders came together to announce the closure of a property that has posed several safety and health concerns over a three year period. The property located at 21 Memorial Drive has drawn the attention of New Castle County Police and the Attorney General Beau Biden that joined to combat such criminal cases. Since the fall of 2009, the police have been called to the house 177 times, arresting at least 40 people on numerous drug charges.
"Despite the continued enforcement efforts by New Castle County Police, it was clear that making arrest after arrest was not stopping violent criminal activity at this site. We had to stop it at its source by shutting down the property and that's where our nuisance abatement law works as a crime fighting tool," said Biden.
The shut down is the result of Delaware's Criminal Nuisance Abatement Act which gives property owners a choice to stop criminal activity or face the Department of Justice.
"I have 17 grandchildren, the oldest is 23 and the youngest is 2 months, you have to keep your children pinned in the back yard in fear of what's going to happen out front," said Tillie Carello who lived on Memorial Drive for 31 years.
On May 3rd, prosecutors filed a lawsuit in Superior Court against the property owner 68 year old Paul Bembry seeking immediate closure. On May 15th that's exactly what happened at a temporary abatement hearing since the litigation process will take some time as it moves along its normal process.
Bembry has been found in violation of the property where police say was known for prostitution, drugs and other criminal activity. To date, Bembry has been cited five times including three times this year.
Also this year, undercover operations revealed drug deals and in March an illegal handgun was seized during a search of the house. Police have even found bullet holes and other evidence that gunshots had been fired inside the home.
"Today's closure is an important step in ending the criminal activity and helping the residents of this community have the peace and security they deserve in their neighborhood," said Biden.
"This is a start! I just hope everybody stays focused on the main goal and purpose which is cleaning this up and getting it out of here. I don't want it in my neighborhood and I'm sure other residents would say the same thing," said Carello.
Since 2007 when Biden announced newly enhanced enforcement actions under the Abatement Act more than a dozen properties have been shut down.