Delaware Public Media

Police Reform subcommittee faces roadblocks in first meeting, aims to power through

Sep 9, 2020

One part of the state’s Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force met Wednesday to begin tackling police reform in the First State.


 

The task force’s Police Transparency and Accountability subcommittee is charged with developing policies to address racial bias in the police force. 

 

Rebecca Brown, the Director of Policy at The Innocence Project, spoke during public comment about the importance of making police misconduct data more publicly accessible.

 

“But basically what we have right now is a system that permits the shielding of personal records of police officers even when those records reveal police misconduct from public view. Currently under Delaware’s aw enforcement bill of rights and it’s freedom of information law police disciplinary records are exempt from public disclosure and personnel records.”

 

It’s specifically looking at three key areas related to transparency: The Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights, implementing a civilian review board and improving access to the disciplinary database.

 

But one roadblock that the taskforce’s legislative sponsor State Rep. Franklin Cooke wanted to avoid appeared during Wednesday’s meeting.  Members brought up issues with current Freedom of Information Act laws that might foil any changes the committee pursues from being fully transparent to the public.

 

Charlotte King with The Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice says that should not be allowed to derail the committee’s goals.

 

“It can be that out of the work that we do, we might have to recommend legislative change for FOIA to allow databases, to allow other changes in terms of civilian review boards. But I personally am not interested in starting the process where we’re already putting up barriers.”

 

Subcommittee chair James Liguori says he wants to keep things moving quickly to maintain momentum already built. Other subcommittee members can submit their own policy proposals for consideration by the end of the month.

 

The subcommittee’s aggressive timeline looks to put policy proposals in front of  the full task force by the end of the year, before the legislative session begins in January.