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Police transparency subcommittee disagrees on recommendations

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media

The preliminary report from one Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force subcommittee stalled before approval.


The various task force subcommittees are preparing to submit preliminary recommendations to the full committee.


The Transparency and Accountability subcommittee met Friday to approve its recommendations, but members failed to agree on a few of them


How to implement Civilian Review Boards was one sticking point.

Assistant Public Defender Misty Seemans thinks they should work within existing systems.


“The Council on Police Training I think we actually could have influence on,” Seemans said. “Because they are guided by state laws that the General Assembly writes and passes that affect the de-certification of officers.”


The Council on Police Training decides basic requirements to become a police officer, but can also revoke an officer’s certification.


Seemans argues adding civilians to the council would give people de-certification power, which many Civilian Review Boards do not have.


Crystal Womack with Network Delaware is also concerned about the group’s recommendations on creating Civilian Review Boards. She says it doesn’t give them enough power.


“Civilian review boards, they almost never get subpoena power. They almost never have the teeth that we want,” Womack said. “COPT can de-certify an officer, which is the ultimate goal. If we wanna get the bad apples out, that’s the way to do it.”


Committee members also disagreed on changing the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. It’s a sensitive topic for law enforcement, but some committee members say issues of discipline, confidentiality and collective bargaining need to be addressee to make significant progress


Some members of the public say reform to the bill of rights is needed to accomplish any significant reform.


Seemans stresses the group is getting too into the weeds with the interim report and trying to appease everyone.


The Task Force as a whole released their interim report earlier this month. Notably, the Workforce Development and Transparency and Accountability subcommittee's didn't release concrete reccomendations like the other committees.


Rahter, they outline the topics of discussion and further research the groups are doing.


The Transparency and Accountability subcommittee heads back to the drawing board with a goal of finalizing the report in the next two weeks.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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