Delaware Public Media

Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force starts examination of use of force policy

Sep 16, 2020

The state’s new Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force begins its work to implement a legal use of force standard throughout the state 

The group’s Use of Force Subcommittee held its first meeting Wednesday.

 

"The goal here is to enact a statewide policy that would cover all 48 police departments in this small state of Delaware," said State Attorney General Kathy Jennings, the subcommittee’s chair.

She says material the group reviews will include other states’ use of force statutes, use of force data, and a use of force spreadsheet from incidents in Delaware.

The subcommittee is also reviewing the current use of force statute and standard policy across law enforcement agencies.  It will also examine use of force expectations by means other than firearms, de-escalation, duty to intervene and report, and use of body cameras.

And Jennings says she’s including the Jeremy McDole case report for study.

"Because I think it is the sort of seminal investigation and report on police shootings, I have included the use of force report in the Jeremy McDole case," said Jennings. "I think someone said when they were introducing themselves that this is complex, and it is very complex when we look at one incident of use of force."

The group also intends to look at expanding the DOJ’s role in use of force cases beyond fatal shootings and data reporting on these cases.

Jennings also notes the subcommittee needs to take a closer look at the role mental health plays.

“What I have seen most recently in many of the shootings that we have looked at as an office is if there is a serious mental illness or mental health crisis at play at the time the police used force," said Jennings. "11 of the last 35 officer-involved shootings reviewed by the Department of Justice involves mental health issues."

Community activist and former police officer Larry Johnson is also part of the subcommittee, and says this isn’t a matter of police being under attack, but being under scrutiny.

"Because there is not simply just the one percent or the one  ad apple. There needs to be a reckoning for those who tolerate the one percent as well."

The subcommittee meets again next month.