Police violence in Southbridge cited as proof of need for LEOBOR reform
People are citing video of a recent arrest in Wilmington as a reason for the state legislature to pass a bill that would allow public access of police misconduct records.
Senate Bill 149 made it through a state Senate committee this year, but has not yet gone for a vote. It could do so next year—but first, the primary sponsor, Sen. Tizzy Lockman (D-Wilmington), is holding listening sessions on points of contention.
Law-enforcement disciplinary records can currently be kept secret in Delaware, under a section of state code known as the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR). The proposed legislation would make them public records.
Emily Evans said the Wilmington police officer caught on camera repeatedly slamming a man’s head into plexiglass during an arrest in Southbridge this month illustrates the need for reform.
“Police need checks and balances,” Evans said. “How can the public know that an unbiased investigation is occurring if the police investigate themselves?”
Advocacy groups and Wilmington City Council president Trippi Congo have called for the release of the officer’s body camera footage. Congo says he has not gotten a response.
“We cannot continue to drag this matter out,” Congo said in a statement Friday. “The reality is, the longer we delay this process the more frustrated our residents will be.”
The officer has reportedly been placed on administrative duty. Still, David Bever, executive director of the Delaware Center for Justice, said in a statement Tuesday that his organization has many questions about the incident.
“While we’re glad to see some steps were taken to remove that officer from the community, we need to see the body camera footage,” he said. “We need an accounting of why that incident happened, what will happen next, what that officer’s record is, and what recourse the victim is entitled to. We’re calling on the Wilmington Police Department to provide these details straight away.”
A Wilmington police spokesperson did not respond to a question Friday about whether the agency will consider releasing any body camera footage.
Lakeisha Nix, whose brother was killed by New Castle County police early this year, said at Wednesday’s listening session that she supports Senate Bill 149 as is.
“In the case of my brother Lymond Moses,” she said, “nine months of no accountability. Nine months of no answers. And to add to it, fear that there will be another Lymond Moses.”
Senators Lockman and Marie Pinkney (D-New Castle) will host a stakeholder meeting on the legislation focused on Community Review Boards 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8.