On October 24, 2023 the ACLU of Delaware filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of two individuals and the NAACP-DE in federal district court against the City of Wilmington to address patterns and practices of unconstitutional policing conducted by the Wilmington Police Department (WPD).

These practices, carried out primarily by the “Operation Safe Streets” (OSS) program, have included a history of Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations, including: a) stopping, frisking, and searching pedestrians without reasonable suspicion or probable cause of criminal conduct, or of being armed and dangerous, b) stopping motor vehicles without cause to believe that the driver has committed criminal conduct or has violated the motor vehicle code, c) unreasonable searches without a warrant, d) unreasonable arrests; and e) racially biased policing that is evidenced by large racial disparities demonstrating the targeting of Black pedestrians and drivers based on their race.

OSS has operated in Wilmington since 1997. The program is a partnership between the Wilmington Police Department and the Delaware Department of Corrections (DOC) that allows police and probation officers to jointly monitor Delawareans on probation. In 2022, ACLU-DE conducted an extensive investigation into the program that revealed its ineffectiveness and complete lack of reporting and oversight. Since its inception, OSS has failed to improve public safety in the city.

WPD has failed, with deliberate indifference, to monitor its officers for compliance with constitutional practices, investigate and discipline officers who engage in unconstitutional conduct, and has by policy and practice failed to record and preserve records and information regarding the stops and frisks of civilians that were conducted in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Delaware state law.


Dwayne J. Bensing, John A. Freedman, David Rudovsky

Date filed

October 24, 2023


Federal District Court of Delaware



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