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Civil Rights and Public Trust arm of Dept. of Justice gains new status

Delaware Public Media

Delaware’s Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust has an upgraded place in the state's Department of Justice.

The division was elevated from office status last week when Gov. Carney signed Senate Bill 96. 


State Attorney General Kathy Jennings says the change gives it independence from the rest of the DOJ in way that's now statutorily mandated.

"The independence of their role is very important," said Jennings. "And when I say independence of their role I mean independence from all of the other divisions of our office. They operate on their own."

The division investigates all police involved shootings, alleged violations of public trust by public officials and alleged actions of discrimination.  It also conducts investigations where the DOJ’s other responsibilities might present the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Jennings adds the Division’s workload has been heavy and getting heavier, but to date, it’s been a small entity within DOJ with limited resources.

She notes the legislation passed allows the Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust to grow, including the addition of another Deputy AG assigned to it.

She says the change also ensures the division will remain in place long-term, no matter who is Attorney General.

Jennings also announce this week she tapped Deputy Attorney General Mark Denney to lead the Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust.

Denney has been with the state Dept. of Justice since 2007 and Jennings says his experience makes him the right person to serve as director.

"We're just incredibly lucky with his background and ability to put together very complex sensitive investigations and see them through to trial," said Jennings. "He's done it all there is not one area in criminal law for example that Mark hasn't touched and has expertise in."

As for Denney, his first priority is clear.

"Learn as much as I can get a good sense as to how this should look, and see if we can charge forward in a meaningful way, as soon as we can."

The Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust was initally created in 2015 by then Attorney General Matt Denn.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.
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