Delaware for Police Oversight says new accountability initiatives do 'close to nothing' to address systemic problems - Technical.ly Delaware

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Jun. 11, 2020 12:04 pm

Delaware for Police Oversight says new accountability initiatives do ‘close to nothing’ to address systemic problems

Points of contention include assigning police to decision-making roles in a task force proposed to explore the possibility of a Community Review Board.
Legislative Hall in Dover.

Legislative Hall in Dover.

(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The Justice For All Agenda proposed by the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus on Wednesday offered eight new police accountability initiatives, including a bill to amend the state constitution.

Delaware for Police Oversight (DEPO), in coalition with organizers for the June 5 #NotJustAProtest march in Wilmington and Building People Power, say they haven’t gone far enough. The DEPO coalition last week proposed a Community Review Board led by private citizens to focus on alternatives to police presence in communities, with a community-informed accountability process.

“We can certainly appreciate the commitment to the expansion of juvenile protections, as well as a commitment to body cameras statewide,” said the coalition in a statement responding to the Justice for All Agenda. “However, without guaranteed access to recorded footage, and a full-throated committal to the implementation of a statewide citizen-led Community Review Board with full investigative and subpoena powers, these proposals do close to nothing to address the systemic problems which give law enforcement such an outsized and unwarranted power to begin with.

“The task force being commissioned to explore the possibility of a Community Review Board is both run by a former officer and is expected to have multiple members of law enforcement on it,” the statement continued. “It should be said in no uncertain terms that voting members of this task force should consist of a majority of private citizens. We can all agree on the importance of police input and testimony, but given today’s announcement, this taskforce runs the risk of being another empty promise.”

The announcement of legislative initiatives came the day after the arrests of civil disobedience protesters in Camden, as well as Black Dover Post journalist Andre Lamar, who had identified himself as press.

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The Justice For All Agenda includes these proposals:

  • Amend the state constitution to explicitly declare that protection against discrimination based on race, color, and national origin is one of Delaware’s fundamental rights. (Senate Bill 191)
  • Establish an African American Task Force to explore racial disparities in Delaware, and propose remedies, “including a commitment to significant restorative investments in historically black communities over the next five years.”
  • Banning the police from using “knee holds, choke holds and similar acts of applying force or pressure against the trachea, windpipe, carotid artery or jugular vein unless deadly force is necessary.”
  • Require body cameras to be used by all Delaware law enforcement agencies and mandate that those devices be activated throughout all interactions with suspects or witnesses.
  • Prohibiting Delaware law enforcement agencies from releasing mug shots or other photographs of juvenile defendants.
  • Requiring that all Delaware law enforcement agencies record videos of all interrogations of juvenile suspects and defendants, except under certain circumstances.
  • Amending the Delaware Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights to allow the legal counsel of criminal defendants access to internal affairs investigation records of law enforcement officers accused of wrongdoing.
  • Establish a Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force — including police officers, citizens, and other stakeholders — to consider issues and proposals on the use of force, civil rights protections, transparency, and community policing.
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