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LEOBOR bill receives mixed reaction in State Senate committee

Delaware Public Media

Proposed changes to the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights finally got a committee hearing Wednesday.


Opening up police misconduct records to the public is among the bills formed out of the Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force recommendations.


State Sen. Elizabeth’s Lockman (D-Wilmington) measure, which also opens the door for civilian review boards, is the only one that faced opposition from the law enforcement community in the task force.


In it’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, State Sen. Sarah McBride (D-Claymont) argued it’s not up to law enforcement what changes are made to the law.


“But ultimately we are the legislators,” she said. “We have been elected to make the decisions for the people of this state, provide the oversight, provide the policies that our governmental bodies — including law enforcement — have to abide by.”


McBride adds this bill will go a long way toward repairing trust between police and the communities they serve.


Police misconduct records are confidential in 22 other states and the District of Columbia — and at least 14 other states have their own version of LEOBOR.


Other states recently passed laws opening up their police misconduct records, including neighboring Maryland, which recently repealed its version of the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights.


Lockman says the bill also seeks to pave the way for more civilian oversight of law enforcement.


“It does not prescribe the operation of civilian review boards — what it does do is clear the path through the amendment for these to come into being,” Lockman said. “It would allow state, county, municipal governments that do operate law enforcement agencies to establish these review boards.”


Lockman expects some compromise amendments to be considered before a vote. They include narrowing the scope of records available to the public, a change some members of the public oppose.


Companion legislation also came up during Wednesday’s committee meeting, but both of State Sen. Marine Pinkney’s bills; changing the use of force definition and expanding the Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust’s responsibilityalready passed the Senate and are now in the House.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

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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