Civilian Review Boards To Help Police Oversight May Become Effective in Delaware
As protests against police brutality, misconduct, budgeting, and structural police reform ring out across the world, some cities have taken the initial steps of what may become a national movement in all cities and states. Cities including Phoenix, Arizona, Annapolis, Maryland and Richmond, Virginia have taken steps in the past weeks toward creating civilian review boards to look into police misconduct and help keep police officers accountable for their actions.
The Delaware NAACP State Conference of Branches and others are calling for review boards for law enforcement agencies here.
“We need a policeman review board made up of community folks, some business folks and some preachers,” said State NAACP president Richard “Mouse” Smith, “so we can be able with subpoena power to get what we need and to recommend discharge.”
The group Delaware for Police Oversight (DEPO) started advocating for a statewide community review board last year and has revived its push in light of the protests. Co-coordinator Garrison Davis said the goal is holding police accountable. “If an officer steps out of line, does something wrong, actually looking at the situation from a fair perspective and then making a suggestion on how that officer should be handled,” he said.
The review board DEPO is proposing would also establish alternatives to police presence in communities, collect and analyze data, and review law enforcement policies. Davis sees this as key to transparency. “Something as simple as putting the police policies online,” said Davis. “What is escalation of force? How is force escalated? What is a traffic stop supposed to go through? Even something as minute as the officer’s approach to the situation.”
Organizations including Network Delaware, the Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow and the Building People Power campaign have also signed onto DEPO’s community review board proposal, which has also taken the form of a petition on Change.org with more than two thousand signatures as of Monday.
Accountability and transparency is needed within police forces, so that all people can trust their local police staff. Civilian Review Boards will help to do just that. Police misconduct has been a large issue in the United States for years now, especially in poverty-stricken areas, but it affects all people of all backgrounds…
In the United States, sexual violence by police is the second most common form of police misconduct, after excessive force. A police officer is caught in an act of sexual misconduct every five days in the U.S. – not to mention all those who get away with sexual assault and are never caught red-handed.
When asked about the possibility of a civilian review board, representatives from the Delaware State Police, Dover and Wilmington police departments declined to address the issue directly.