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Delaware Headlines

Revised LEOBOR reform bill is introduced in Dover

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Roman Battaglia
/
Delaware Public Media

As a revised Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights reform bill is introduced in Dover, and it’s getting some pushback.

The original bill had broad provisions which opened all police misconduct records to public scrutiny.

The Senate Substitute for Senate Bill 149, according to its sponsor State Sen. Elizabeth "Tizzy" Lockman (D-Wilmington), pulls back on some of those provisions.

"So there is still just enabling language for localities to establish community review boards, but it narrows the scope of the powers that they could have. They would not have subpoena power or the ability to make disciplinary decisions that replace the internal investigation process," said Lockman.

The revised bill does allow serious and substantial police misconduct records to be opened to the public.

It also establishes a two-tiered community review board system with the power to examine law enforcement agencies handling of misconduct cases and to make recommendations for improvements.

“Ever since the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus announced the Justice for All Agenda in June 2020, we have worked consistently to achieve meaningful criminal justice and law enforcement reforms. We mandated police body cameras, required recording of interrogations, established a uniform use-of-force standard, automated expungements, raised the age of prosecution, and more,” said State Rep. Kendra Johnson (D-Bear) in a statement. Johnson is the bill’s lead House sponsor and chair of the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus.

The ACLU of Delaware and its Delaware Campaign for Smart Justice oppose the revised bill. The Smart Justice Campaign’s manager Haneef Salaam is disappointed with the scope of the bill.

"They are only allowing for a small portion of records to be made accessible while still allowing for the secrecy to continue within complaints amongst officers and investigation amongst officers," said Salaam.

Salaam say it also takes community oversight out of the hands of the community through the statewide oversight board.

He notes he will work with allies to advocate for the original bill because he says that’s the best chance to help reform policing.

Salaam adds if this bill is passed it would be a step back in police reform.