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Politics & Government

Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force hosts a member of the Exonerated Five

Delaware Legislature
Yusef Salaam, one of the men that was wrongfully convicted in the Central Park Jogger Case.

The Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force held a public listening session Wednesday night.


The key speaker was a member of the exonerated Central Park Five.


The task force is taking a serious look at accountability in police departments in the First State.


And its Wednesday listening session sought to gather public input as well as learn about the issues facing Delaware from community leaders.


It featured Yusef Salaam, a member of the Exonerated Five, formerly known as the Central Park Five - a group of five teenagers that were arrested in the 1980’s over an alleged rape and exonerated 13 years later.


Salaam says the United States needs to start looking outward for answers to cutting into the largest rate of incarceration in the world.


“As a young nation, it would behoove us to look at other countries, other superpowers of the world and gain examples of understanding - how do they use policing in their countries," said Salaam. "Why is it that we are the number one country that locks up most people who look like me and how do we fix that?”


Panelists also listed a series of changes they believe should be implemented statewide. They included implementing civilian oversight boards, requiring police officers to go through a licensing program, and pairing mental health professionals with police when such issues arise.


Salaam says much of the time, the public ignores the issues facing communities of color.


“The public does not know, and the public is unaware," said Salaam. "They’d rather turn their consciousness off as they see people go through the process of trying to seek justice.”


Community activist Coby Owens and other panelists also agreed that use of excessive force by police harms communities' belief in their ability to protect and serve them.


“Excessive force has eroded the public’s confidence in the police, has decreased the legitimacy of police and it give the impression that police view themselves above the public.”


Over 80 members of the public attended the session to give their comments, and another session is planned near the end of October.

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