This post was originally written by Digital Content Intern Patrick LaPorte. LaPorte is a senior media communications major at the University of Delaware, working as a news and sports reporter for The Review and sports director for 91.3 WVUD at UD.
Wilmington City Council passed an ordinance on Thursday night that would eliminate the establishment of any ticket or arrest quotas by Wilmington Police. All council members present at the meeting voted in favor of the ordinance, with one council member absent. Its passage comes even as the Wilmington Police Department currently has no quota in place for tickets or arrests. Councilman James Spadola believes the bill will help police officers become more connected within the community by not focusing on tickets or arrests. “It protects police officers from being or feeling forced to make arrests, it enables them to use their discretion and focus on solving the problem, it enables them to spend time on community policing events,” Spadola said Thursday.
Councilwoman Shanè Darby of District 2 said her support for the ordinance comes from how quotas in other areas largely affects the black community. “Imagine how many people across this nation are sitting in prison because of things like this, who are being affected by this, by coming home and being returning citizens,” Darby said. “I’m in this for the community, I’m in this for protecting the residents here in Wilmington.”
Spadola said the passage of the bill will remove the perception that quotas in the city exist. Councilwoman Maria Cabrera echoed Spadola’s idea of perception. Cabrera believes making this bill official will help build trust with police officers and citizens of Wilmington. “We all understand that perception is reality and even though it may not exist, sometimes when you codify something, it gives that assurance and builds that trust with the community,” Cabrera said. “At least now with it codified we know it’s not allowed, its permissible, its unacceptable.”
Spadola, the head sponsor of the bill, hopes the city can present the bill at the state level to eventually serve as a statewide law. Several states around the country have tried to implement laws to discourage or ban quotas. New Jersey’s state government is currently reviewing a bill that if passed, would ban the use of arrest and ticket numbers in promoting or rewarding officers.