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Wilmington City Council delays police academy to protest lagging diversity

Delaware Public Media

Wilmington City Council is taking a stand about what some say is insufficient diversity on the city’s police force.


Toward the end of a four-hour meeting Thursday, Wilmington City Council declined to pass a resolution calling for the Wilmington Police Department to commence a new police academy to fill vacant positions.

Under the resolution, the Department would start a police academy once it falls below 95 percent of authorized manpower— which it expects will happen by the end of the year. 

A majority of Council members voted for Councilman Sam Guy’s motion to refer the resolution back to committee — objecting to what they characterize as a lack of diversity on the police force. 

“I’ve talked to minorities on the Department, and they’re frustrated,” said Councilman Trippi Congo. “They say that the process isn’t fair. So I think it was a great thing that Council did today to refer it back, so they know that we’re serious about making that Department more diverse. ”

Congo thinks the current administration and police chief are not doing enough. “We keep asking. They keep telling us they’re trying. But we just need to see more.”

Councilwoman Michelle Harlee voted to refer the resolution back to committee, but says Council also needs to develop a proposal based on data, such as, “how many African Americans or people of color are actually submitting resumes. Finding out who’s getting denied.”

Councilwoman Linda Gray suggested strategies like relocation bonuses and outreach to other cities.

Wilmington police officials say about one third of the most recent police academy class consisted of minority cadets, and that the department continues to try to recruit more minority applicants.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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