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Last updated Jan. 20, 2020
No knock warrants
Delaware has not yet enacted a law eliminating the use of no-knock warrants.
Delaware has not yet enacted a law ending its participation programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments. Delaware's participation in this program came under scrutiny in 2017 when Dewey PD purchased new police vehicles using the profits from selling some equipment received through the 1033 program.
Military style training
Delaware has not yet enacted a law refocusing training away from self-defense responses and towards community centered training like that offered by Blue Courage.
Delaware has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.
Civil asset forfeiture
Delaware has not yet enacted a law ending civil asset forfeiture. Police can keep up to 100% of seized assets, which are allocated to the Special Law Enforcement Assistance Fund. Additionally, it is automatically assumed that all seized property is forfeitable, unless the defendant can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that it is not.
Delaware has not yet enacted a law ending quotas for low-level arrests and tickets. While police departments and officials claim that there are no quotas, former police officers have insisted otherwise, with one former Newark PD officer saying they existed in the form of “productivity goals” and “performance objectives.”
Cost of misconduct
Delaware has not yet enacted a law stating requiring that police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.
Delaware has completely and thoroughly decriminalized marijuana in addition to signing expungement bills for marijuana convictions. The city of Wilmington has also passed an ordinance to repeal begging and panhandling provisions from city code, but such legislation has not been put into place state-wide.
Objective justification for stops
For traffic stops, Delaware requires reasonable and articulable suspicion that a violation of such statute has occurred in order to proceed with a stop. Otherwise, the state has not outlined objective justification requirements.
Reporting stop details
Delaware has not yet enacted a law requiring comprehensive reporting of police stops (noting location, race, gender, whether force was used and whether a firearm was found). Though not directly tied to comprehensive reporting of stop data, Gov. Carney signed an executive order in June 2020 to address several police reform initiatives, including mandating all police departments to participate in the national use-of-force reporting database.
Reckless civil rights violation
Delaware has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights. However, in a June 2020 press conference, Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings stated that the Delaware Code police use of force statute should be altered to require the necessity of force be "objectively reasonable." The current statute states that the use of force by law enforcement officers is lawful if the officer "believes that such force is immediately necessary." She also proposed creating a law that criminalizes the knowing or reckless deprivation of someone’s constitutional rights.
In January of 2015, the Attorney General created the Office of Civil Rights & Public Trust, establishing a centralized office within the Department of Justice for the investigation of matters concerning civil rights enforcement and violations of the public trust. Senate Bill 96, signed 4/8/2020, establishes this office as an independent entity within the Department of Justice. The director of the division "reports directly to the Chief Deputy Attorney General, to avoid conflicts of interest with the work of the other Divisions." The departments main role is to "investigate and prosecute civil or criminal misconduct committed under color of Delaware law or in the course of a public official's or state employee's duties."
Delaware has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity.
Mental health response
The Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health has established Crisis Intervention Services (CIS), whose goal is the "prevention of unnecessary or inappropriate hospitalizations of a person experiencing severe symptoms of a mental illness or substance related problem." CIS also provides training to each police department in the state in evaluating the need for mental health services in individuals picked up for criminal charges. The CIS maintains a crisis intervention hotline 24 hours a day to respond to mental health and substance abuse related crises. However, mental health professionals are not dispatched to mental health crisis situations.
Education, Housing, Community Health Resources
It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.
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