Take Action to Improve Police Transparency in Delaware
When police misconduct records are kept confidential, it means that the public, journalists, and even attorneys have no way of knowing which officers are engaging in ongoing misconduct or if any disciplinary actions have been enforced. Secrecy laws that protect those officers leave the public in the dark about information that could prevent future miscarriages of justice.
For example, in 2018, former Dover police officer Thomas Webster killed 19-year-old Anton Black in Greensboro, Maryland. Webster had previously been tried for kicking a Black man and breaking his jaw during an arrest in Dover. He was then certified as a police officer in Maryland because his disciplinary record, which included 29 excessive force complaints, was confidential in Delaware.
This hidden record detailing Webster’s misconduct was only uncovered through investigations by the media because it was part of a court record in 2015. Other records of misconduct committed by Delaware police officers may never be disclosed unless the law changes.
This April, Maryland took action and passed Anton’s Law to help ensure that police misconduct records aren’t hidden from the public. Now, Delaware has its opportunity to do the same. Senator Elizbabeth Lockman has introduced Senate Bill 149 to make records of police misconduct in Delaware finally accessible to the public.
Lawmakers need to hear from you in order to make this crucial change in Delaware. Here are two actions you can take right now to help:
- Use the form above to contact your state senators and tell them you support passing SB 149 for much-needed transparency in policing.
- Sign up here to give virtual public comment in support of SB 149 on Wednesday, June 16th at 1:00 pm.
We need you to make this happen and to encourage our lawmakers fighting for change!
The Innocence Project and Innocence Delaware are part of a coalition of organizations working to support these critical reforms. The coalition’s members are:
- ACLU of Delaware
- Delaware Center for Justice
- Innocence Delaware
- Innocence Project
- Project New Start
- Safe Communities Coalition of Delaware
- Delaware United
- Network Delaware
- The Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow
- Delaware Coalition for Open Government
- Campaign for Smart Justice
- Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. (CLASI)
Read the coalition’s letter to the Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force, urging members to include key police transparency measures in the task force’s recommendations to the Delaware General Assembly.
Read this op-ed by LaToya Holley, the sister of Anton Black (Jan. 30, 2021, Delaware News Journal): Honor Anton Black: Stop hiding police misconduct records