This year alone we have seen the number of disturbing photos and videos of Delawareans — particularly youth, some as young as thirteen — experiencing brutal and traumatizing encounters with our police continue to grow. These encounters and their aftermath, often captured primarily on personal cell phones and shared via social media, come from concerned witnesses and those affected by abuses of power. Let’s be clear — it cannot solely be the public’s responsibility to expose injustices perpetrated by police officers.
In the wake of new incidents involving teens assaulted at the hands of Delaware State Police, we yet again renew our call for true reform to Delaware’s Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR). Despite minor changes passed in 2023, Delaware’s state laws continue to allow police to operate in secrecy and without meaningful public oversight.
It’s past time for meaningful action to increase transparency in police departments, enforce mechanisms for holding officers accountable, allow public access to police disciplinary records, and give communities the power to hear and decide on police disciplinary matters through community oversight boards. These reforms would mark a critical step towards removing the veil of secrecy that keeps vital accountability tools like body camera footage hidden from the public.
Delawareans deserve to know what goes on in our communities.
This statement is attributable to ACLU of Delaware executive director, Mike Brickner.