In Selbyville, the talk is coffee, heroin and public safety

Selbyville police officers sat down to discuss local issues with residents for National Coffee with a Cop Day on Oct. 7. The Selbyville Public Library hosted the event to help bring the citizens and law enforcement together.

The Selbyville Police Department expects to handle more than 3,000 calls for service this year. They have seven full-time officers and three part-timers, as well as several contract officers hired only by Mountaire for security.

“We are trying to use technology to make up for the manpower [shortage],” said Police Chief W. Scott Collins, who just hit his 25-year milestone with SPD, where his father previously served as chief.

New developments contribute impact fees to pay for Town services. With all the new growth on Route 54, Collins has requested another officer in the coming year’s budget. It’s up to the town council to approve.

With three schools inside town limits, 50 percent of Selbyville’s population during the daytime hours is students, Collins said.

Officer Larry Corrigan is the school resource officer for the three Selbyville schools, and he said the district was very receptive to the program.

This generation is growing up with horrific events happening in schools, Corrigan said, hearkening to the increase in mass shootings and school invasions. Police need to make children feel safe at school, without it feeling like a police state.

Some children are plagued with issues that their parents created, so Corrigan began several mentoring groups for different groups of boys, girls and ethnicities, which he said helps them focus on specific issues to their lives.

Meanwhile, the SPD is continuing to build relationships with the Hispanic community, which has put roots down in the area. Perhaps wary of police in their hometowns, immigrants didn’t always report crimes, but the SPD has worked with community leaders to help get justice for everyone.

Although the grant money isn’t available as much for Spanish-language seminars, the SPD uses the Language Line, which can translate up to hundreds of languages, as necessary. Mandarin Chinese was the first language Selbyville ever translated using that service.

Drug problems and thefts top crime concerns

Heroin is “absolutely everywhere,” Collins said. “It’s horrible. … It’s everywhere, and it’s a shame.”

Selbyville is a thoroughfare to the beaches, which explains some of the high numbers. The SPD meets regularly with Maryland investigators on local crime issues.

Previously, he said, heroin was mostly coming from Philadelphia, and cops knew what to expect. But now, the consistency is “all over the place,” as Baltimore blends are being cut with unknown, and potentially more dangerous, substances, such as fentanyl. Now, emergency responders have no idea what to even expect when they’re told someone is on heroin.

The Selbyville PD does not currently use naloxone, the emergency opioid overdose medication but they’re lined up to be trained it its administration, Collins said.

“We would rather do the CPR rescue breathing until the medical people get there. … Paramedics can control the dosage [of naloxone],” Collins said.

By Delaware law, anyone who reports a drug overdose will not be arrested for their involvement. The goal is to get life-saving help. Collins recalled an incident in which police searched needlessly for 30 minutes because the caller reporting an overdose was afraid of prosecution and reported it as being in the wrong area. The overdose victim died.

The Delaware State Police only has about eight officers to patrol the unincorporated zones of Sussex County — meaning only one or two are ever in the southeast corner of the state. That number is actually already on the high side, since Sussex County government has funded extra DSP positions locally.

But people must stop leaving doors unlocked, Collins said.

“We don’t see cars being broken into,” just people rifling through cars that were unlocked. In the last five years, he estimated, vehicle thefts have only occurred when the vehicle was left running with the keys inside.

Also, please report incidents immediately, Collins said. The station gets phone calls on Monday to complain about parties from the previous weekend.

People can call 911 and be transferred to the non-emergency line for a seemingly minor situation or suspicious person.

On that note, Delaware is a non-retreat estate, so people aren’t expected to retreat from an intruder in the home, Collins noted. However, trespassers outside on the property cannot be handled the same way. Residents should just call the police in that case.

CodeRED is the new emergency notification system sponsored by the Town. It can send information for any emergency, from major storms to water main breaks.

Residents who don’t get notifications should update their contact information by visiting the Selbyville Police Department website (online at, Click “Police Department,” then click “CODERED”).