Wherever you are in America, tune in! YOU can learn from my friend, Attorney General Kathy Jennings, on this vital issue.
Excerpts from the Article:
A statewide task force created to address systemic racism and police brutality toward people of color in Delaware is set to start meeting next week.
The 18-person group selected by the Delaware General Assembly includes one ex-police Democratic lawmaker, two Republican lawmakers and the state’s pro-reform Democratic attorney general. It also includes several police chiefs, a police union lobbyist and a handful of advocates for Black communities in the state.
The group will meet for the first time via Zoom on Thursday, Aug. 6, at 10 a.m. The meeting will be livestreamed, and there will be time for public comment from virtual listeners.
The task force, which was created in response to anti-racism protests across Delaware following the death of George Floyd in May, is part of an eight-item list of promises that the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus announced in June.
State Representative Nnamdi O. Chukwuocha and other elected officials called for new legislation to address police brutality and racial injustice in Delaware. The agenda also includes pushing for every officer to have a body camera and banning police chokeholds and kneeholds unless the officer feels it’s necessary.
The latter was quickly written into a bill that lawmakers scrambled to pass before the General Assembly ended its session on June 30. The bill is still waiting for Gov. John Carney’s signature to become law. The governor could sign the bill as early as next week, but a date hasn’t been nailed down yet, according to his office.
Some members sitting on the task force, including Democratic Attorney General Kathy Jennings, are pushing for reforms that go beyond what the Black Caucus promised, including increased transparency in police departments.
The task force is headed by Darryl Parson, a deputy attorney general in the Delaware Department of Justice’s Civil Division, and Rep. Franklin Cooke, D-New Castle, a former New Castle County police officer in the Black Caucus. Representative Franklin D. Cooke (D) District 16, will be part of a new police reform task force.
The task force includes police advocates who have so far been resistant to some reform measures. One of them is Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, who was one of a handful of Republican senators in late June to vote against the bill to stop police from using chokeholds and kneeholds.
Task force members
Rep. Franklin Cooke, D-New Castle (co-chairman)
Darryl Parson, deputy attorney general in the Delaware Department of Justice’s Civil Division (co-chairman)
Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown
Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown
Attorney General Kathy Jennings, a Democrat
Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings speaks at a press conference about the need to pass legislation to address police brutality and address racial injustice in Delaware.
James Liguori, a defense attorney in Kent County and chair of the Criminal Justice Council
Spencer Price, director of the state government Statistical Analysis Center (ex-officio)
Brendan O’Neill, chief defender of the Office of Defense Services
Thomas Brackin, president of the Delaware State Troopers Association
Fred Calhoun, lobbyist and president of the Delaware Fraternal Order of Police
Fred Calhoun is a lobbyist and president of the Delaware Fraternal Order of Police
Patrick Ogden, chief of University of Delaware Police and chairman of the Delaware Police Chiefs Council
R.L. Hughes, chief of Georgetown Police and former Delaware State Board of Education member
Melissa Zebley, Delaware State Police superintendent
Larry Johnson, a former Naval Police Force patrolman who has trained officers in response to civil disobedience, including crowd control and civil dialogue
Michelle Taylor, president and CEO of United Way of Delaware
Michelle Taylor is President and CEO of the United Way of Delaware.
Bernice Edwards, executive director of the First State Community Action Agency
Ron Handy, member of the NAACP
Sherese Brewington-Carr, member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc.
During the first meeting, the task force will announce who will head up its four subcommittees and name members of each, according to a news release from the Delaware General Assembly. The subcommittees will look at proposals and make recommendations to the full task force for potential law changes.The subcommittees are:
1. Use of Force and Imminent Danger: This group will look at a use-of-force standard and a “definitive imminent danger policy” to “encourage police officers to employ all tactics necessary to avoid using deadly force.”
2. Workforce Development: This group will look at recruitment, hiring and retention practices to make sure police departments have an “appropriately diverse complement of officers.” The group will also look at deescalation training.
3. Community Policing and Engagement: This group will look at expanding “citizen-involved public safety outreach across the state.” It will also look at increasing crisis intervention services and “ongoing proactive mental health care for every police officer in Delaware.”
4. Transparency and Accountability: This group will look at amending the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights that delineates how officers are disciplined for bad behavior and how much of that disciplinary information is publicly available. It will also look at creating civilian review boards for non-police to independently review police misconduct, as well as a database of police misconduct findings.
How to watch the meeting:
The meeting will be live-streamed on the General Assembly’s YouTube channel, which is titled “Delaware General Assembly.”
The public can offer comments during the public comment portion of the meeting or beforehand via email at LEOTaskForce@delaware.gov.
Comments submitted by email will continue to be accepted and included as part of the official record through Friday, Aug. 7, according to the General Assembly’s news release.