Community Outreach Spotlight

Weekly Outreach Walks

Submitted by Dr. David Karas, policy and communications director for the Wilmington, Delaware, Police Department.

A photo of people participating in the Wilmington, Delaware, Police Department's Community Outreach Walk.

Every Thursday at 1 p.m., a group of Wilmington, Delaware, Police Department (WPD) officers, along with local social service providers, public health officials, and community service partners, assemble at a different location in the city. Although the faces may change each time, the mission stays the same — to spend an hour every week walking city blocks and neighborhoods to share information and extend resources to residents.

The Wilmington Community Outreach Walk series launched in October 2022 and has continued weekly since that time. Teams rotate locations based on community need as identified by community partners as well as police sector captains, who identify neighborhoods affected by crime, substance abuse issues, and/or concerns voiced by residents. Some officers and outreach workers establish a stationary outreach — with tables; information; and giveaways, like food, hygiene kits, and school supplies — while other officers and teams walk through the surrounding neighborhood to talk with residents who are out and about.

“Our weekly Community Outreach Walks have become a mainstay of our community engagement and support efforts, and our police officers enjoy these weekly opportunities to interact with residents and connect them with resource providers,” said WPD Chief Wilfredo Campos. “We are happy to leverage our role as a public service agency and to collaborate with our partners in the hopes of uplifting the overall health and wellness of our city.”

Walks include representatives of the local state-managed social services center and public health clinic; the Delaware Community Response Team, which provides training and distributes Narcan kits; the state children’s services department; and the city’s two federally qualified health centers — Westside Family Healthcare and the Henrietta Johnson Medical Center.

Gatefred Wayde Bivins III, social services senior administrator with the state of Delaware, first approached WPD officials about the idea of organizing a walk in 2022 as a way to enhance police-community relations and support residents, and the partnership has grown exponentially from there.

“The Wilmington Outreach walks are rooted in Delaware Health and Social Services’ mission and the governor’s action plan to continue to build good-standing relations between police, state agencies, and the communities we serve,” Bivins said. “Without the support of community partnerships, these walks would not have made the life-changing impacts that they have provided.”

What started as the idea to hold a few walks has turned into a regular initiative, with weekly walks throughout the year, regardless of temperature, with only minimal postponements due to inclement weather.

A photo of people participating in the Wilmington, Delaware, Police Department's Community Outreach Walk.

“This initiative is based on the recognition that not every challenge facing a member of the public is best met by a traditional law enforcement response.”

In the first approximately 60 walks, teams have made a tremendous impact:

  • More than 2,000 referrals and connections with social services case workers.
  • More than 1,280 contacts with public health officials, including vaccinations, blood pressure screenings, lead tests, and distributions of COVID-19 test kits and other resources.
  • Nearly 500 Narcan kits distributed, with each recipient trained on how to deploy the life-saving medication.
  • More than 300 contacts with children and family services case workers.
  • Well over 1,650 contacts between the two federally qualified community-based health centers.

This initiative is based on the recognition that not every challenge facing a member of the public is best met by a traditional law enforcement response. The walks are one of a number of initiatives of the WPD designed to connect members of the public with a wide range of resources.

The WPD has also launched a Community Resource Fair series, an expansion of the prior once-annual observance of National Night Out, with monthly events in different community centers or city parks that bring together upwards of 35-40 partners offering free services to residents. These events connect the community with everything from social services support to jobs, health resources, youth enrichment programming, and much more.

In early 2024, the WPD also launched the pilot phase of its Partners in Care co-responder program, which includes a case manager and two mental health clinicians who respond to calls alongside police officers to support those experiencing mental health or substance abuse crises.

For additional information about the Wilmington Community Outreach Walks initiative, visit

Dr. Karas can be reached at