Delaware Lawmakers Must Act Now on Real Police Reform
Under current laws in Delaware, the public is not guaranteed any transparency or accountability in a police-involved incident. In fact, Delaware’s Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBOR) makes public access to police misconduct and disciplinary records nearly impossible. As a result, the public has no insight on why an incident occurred, what could have been done to prevent it, or what disciplinary actions, if any, happened as a result of the investigations.
Delaware’s LEOBOR statute is the worst in the nation for transparency, making the state a leader in police secrecy.
LEOBOR also prevents community-led groups, such as community oversight boards, from effectively reviewing, investigating, and disciplining officers in misconduct cases. No other Delaware public employees enjoy equivalent protections when it comes to disciplinary matters.
Because of Delaware’s law, communities cannot trust that the police will be held accountable for their misbehavior--- or that the results of investigations into police will be available to the public.
Community members with lived experience and police reform advocates are calling for real changes to LEOBOR that, at a minimum, will:
Make serious police misconduct records and use of force reports available to the public, including to attorneys
Allow for the release of both substantiated and unsubstantiated records
Allow access to police records created before the law’s effective date
Retention of records for 20 years from when officer leaves the department
Allow for the creation of Community Oversight boards with subpoena power, investigatory power and access to both substantiated and unsubstantiated police misconduct records
Ensure Community Oversight Board composition can not include current or former government employees, a current or former government elected official, a current candidate for public office, a current or former employee of a law enforcement agency, or an immediate family member of any of the preceding.