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Politics & Government

Community policing advocates make a case in the First State

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

Members of the Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force met Wednesday night to hear more about police accountability in the First State.

The task force was joined by former police officers and community leaders to  discuss police accountability and transparency.

They agreed there’s a need for more transparency from police forces, and more community policing.

LaToya Holley’s brother, Anton Black, was killed by a former Dover police officer Thomas Webster in Maryland last year

Webster had dozens of use of force records in his file from his time with the Dover Police Department. And Holley told the committee he should have never been allowed to get a job in Maryland.

“And frankly he never would have been licensed in the state of Maryland to act in the capacity of law enforcement if his use of force record had been public. And that is definitely a problem.”

Former Wilmington police officer Daniel Selekman says cops do a great job of insulating themselves from the rest of the community, and it’s hard to create transparency and open up the department.

Selekman says changing that starts by having officers introduce themselves to the community they are working in and getting to know it better. That’s why he says he’s a huge advocate for community policing.

Selekman also took aim at the city’s newly created Civilian Review Board, saying it won’t help improve police culture.

“Look at the civilian review board, that’s gonna go nowhere. Why? Because even the mayor doesn’t want it, the union’s not gonna want it. The police union is a powerful force in the state, in any state, they won’t do it.”

Selekman argues police culture is corrupt to the core, and without major overhauls to the police officer’s Bill of Rights or a drastic change in that culture, there won’t be support for more transparency from police departments.

Other panelists say improvement starts with community policing, and ensuring officers build a relationship with the community they work in.

Lynda Williams, Executive Director of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement, says police officers have an obligation to know the people they’re defending, and there needs to be more investment in community policing programs.

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