Del. Police Accountability Task Force Releases Recommendations

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Delaware’s law enforcement accountability task force has approved more than 20 recommendations, which range from requiring body cameras for all police officers to developing standard use-of-force policies, to amending the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights.

The task force was established last year by the Delaware General Assembly at the behest of the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody. Three of its four subcommittees presented recommendations to the full task force Thursday.

To read the recommendations, please CLICK HERE

“Last year, our country’s conscience was shaken by the public murder of George Floyd. For many, this was an awakening and awareness, but for others, it was another reminder of the many challenges and dangers our community faces every day,” State Representative Franklin Cooke, D-New Castle , a task force co-chair said. “The Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force’s subcommittees included dozens of stakeholders, officials, advocates, community members and law enforcement representatives to do a deep dive and discuss, review and recommend improvements across the law enforcement system. Taken together, these recommendations could have a transformative positive effect on law enforcement to ensure that it works for all residents, regardless of race, color or socioeconomic status. I hope the General Assembly will take up these recommendations in the coming weeks.”

Other recommendations were highlighted by the House Democratic Caucus:

  • Amend Delaware’s use of force statute to establish a reasonable objective standard instead of a subjective one.
  • Introduce and pass significant legislative amendments to LEOBOR to increase transparency and accountability; thus, improving trust in the community.
  • Establish a statewide standard use of force policy.
  • Require mandatory and universal use of body camera devices for all law enforcement.
  • Require police departments to solicit opinions and feedback from police and civilian personnel on an annual basis.
  • Expand the Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust’s statutory authority of review.
  • Develop a universal training unit and rebrand the Council on Police Training (COPT).
  • Emphasize greater focus, reporting, and incentives for de-escalation and alternatives to arrests, when appropriate.

Proposed changes to the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights would, in the task force’s words, increase transparency and accountability, thus improving trust in the community.

The recommendations go to lawmakers to be used as background for possible legislation.

ACLU of Delaware Campaign for Smart Justice manager Haneef Salaam released this statement Thursday:

“Today’s Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force meeting made one thing critically clear: Delawareans want increased police accountability and transparency reforms, and we want them now. We can no longer wait for task force red tape and meetings that don’t meet the promises they make — our lawmakers need to move ahead with the recommendations that were made today, to introduce legislation that will:

  • Reform the Law-Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR) to bring real changes to a statute that only serves to protect police at all costs, and 
  • Revise Delaware’s use of force law, so officers can be held accountable when they engage in unconstitutional misconduct.

Transparency and accountability are necessary for due process, a fairer legal system, trust between police and our communities, and trust within law enforcement agencies. We must end this practice of police investigations being shrouded in secrecy without community oversight. Delawareans have spoken, and we deserve swift action, without any further delay.”