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Delaware Headlines

“Flawed and dangerous culture…” Police reform advocates react to Lymond Moses report.

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Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
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Police reform advocates say the latest use of force report this week highlights the dangers the Delaware’s police system poses.

The Delaware Department of Justice report released Monday cleared all officers from any criminal charges related to the shooting of Lymond Moses in January.

The report - produced with an outside law firm - was critical of New Castle County Police policies and training, highlighting that officers were not trained on department policies on shooting at a moving vehicle, and officers at the department even attended presentations that contradicted the policy.

Still, police reform advocates are disappointed no charges were filed. Coby Owens is the Police reform chair at the NAACP of Delaware.

“Just because this report came out doesn’t mean we’re gonna stop our push in the civil courts. It doesn’t mean we’re gonna stop advocating for true reform that addresses racial injustices we see here in the state when it comes to police brutality.”

While the officers won’t face criminal charges, the Moses family is still pursuing a civil case, alleging civil rights violations, excessive use of force and wrongful death.

Delaware Campaign for Smart Justice manager Haneef Salaam says this report exposes the vast protections officers receive.

“Now honestly I think the report shows why the cops should be on trial for killing Lymond Moses.”

Owens says this report is just one more reason for state lawmakers to make changes to the state’s Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights. Delaware has some of the strongest protections for police officers in the country.

The Delaware Center for Justice believes the report exposes a culture of policing in the state that sows distrust in its community.

“We think the report illustrates a deeply flawed and frankly dangerous culture of policing in our state,” says DCJ spokesperson Sean Dwyer. “This culture of capture and prosecute, if it’s allowed to remain where the officers in that situation and other instances feel like their only recourse here is to try to capture the subject and try to bring this to a prosecution — rather than stand back and evaluate the situation. We think that if this is allowed to go on, that it could cost more lives in the future.”

Owens puts some of the blame on lawmakers for taking so long to move on this issue. He says State Rep. Frank Cooke, a former police officer and co-chair of the Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force, is to blame for keeping LEOBOR reform from passing.

The groups plan to renew efforts to get those changes in the upcoming legislative session to push to ensure police are held accountable for their actions.

Dwyer says lawmakers have the chance to capitalize on this movement and pressure right now — and if they don’t, future incidents will be on them.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

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