Michael Purzycki

Candidate for Mayor

Responses to Wilmington Police Reform Survey

Will you vote to make all police disciplinary records public, and push for changes in state law necessary to make that possible?

State law governs this area, both through the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights and FOIA statutes governing personnel records; I am supportive of transparency so long as it does not violate State law. I favor an open discussion about changes to the law that would open for public review disciplinary investigations when the matter is important enough to merit public interest. The law right now blocks public access to all such records.

Will you vote for an ordinance prohibiting Wilmington police from engaging in civil asset forfeiture?

This is not an issue that can be determined by City government through ordinance. This is a matter governed by State law and in some cases, Federal law as well as judicial proceedings. Having said that, I oppose the abuse of this statue.

Will you vote for Wilmington police to collect and publish data, including by race, on all pedestrian and traffic stops they conduct, including the reason for the stop?

Yes; this type of information is already compiled through the Wilmington Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards.

Will you vote in favor of periodic psychological evaluations of Wilmington police officers? Will you vote for funds to mental health support for officers?

The WPD already provides periodic psychological evaluations services and mental health support for officers when needed, and has early warning systems in place to identify those in need of support. We recommend this policy for all law enforcement agencies and all first responders.

Will you vote for issuing all Wilmington Police officers body cameras?

Yes; my Administration is already working to implement this initiative and we have set aside funding to accomplish this goal for each sworn member of the police department (regardless of assignment). Our goal is to implement a body worn camera system this fall.

Since police officers are public servants, do you believe footage from arrest and police misconduct should be made public record?

Yes, I support the release of camera footage, so long as it does not endanger or violate the privacy of victims or witnesses, or compromise investigations.

If elected would you create and/or vote yes on an ordinance to end “no knock warrants”?

This matter cannot be addressed through City ordinance because the issue is outside the authority of the City. Wilmington government cannot unilaterally change the law. This issue should be addressed through the State Legislature.

Will you vote in favor of ending Operation Safe Streets, which utilizes aggressive policing tactics to harass Wilmington families and community members?

No; the question does not present an accurate description of what this task force does; this initiative is supported and facilitated at the state level, and is primarily correlated with the Department of Correction as it relates to probation and parole. The program has produced significant gun arrests and assists state officials in monitoring individuals considered to be among the most violent. Instead of eliminating Safe Streets, I favor placing limitations on the behaviors of officers and support all constitutional rights and protections for our residents.

Will you vote in favor of a community review board that has the power to investigate incidents and complaints, audit policy compliance, has hiring and firing authority, and make records and hearings public to the greatest extent possible?

No; As a general proposition I support community oversight of policing operations, but do not favor a community board that has hiring and firing authority regarding police personnel. There are already multiple layers of oversight with the legal authority and prerogative to act, including the Attorney General’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office. I remain open-minded about an community oversight process even through it could be very difficult to accomplish based on State law as well as union contracts and labor laws regarding authority to hire and fire personnel.

Will you require and fund Wilmington Police to operate a pre-arrest diversion program for people with substance abuse issues (a model similar to New Castle County’s Hero Help)?

Yes; the WPD already has programs in place and officers can make referrals to treatment programs; additionally, the Community Court program through the Delaware Judiciary works with individuals in the community to provide support, often in lieu of traditional sentencing and criminal charges.

Communities of color in Wilmington have borne the brunt of aggressive policing and war on crime policies for decades. Those communities also bear the scars of decades of discrimination in housing, education, and access to economic opportunity. What will you do as a Council member, Mayor, or treasurer to repair that harm?

The City of Wilmington and the Wilmington Police Department will continue to lead the effort for police and criminal justice reforms. We have made a dramatic difference in recent years in the relationships between police and the community through a defined and coordinated effort of community engagement. We will continue to change the way people interact with each other to promote respect and appreciation. As Mayor, my vision for Wilmington is that our City becomes known, above all else, as a just city where all members of our community are cared for and treated with equal respect while at the same time being empowered to pursue their individual dreams and aspirations. A just city means that people with problems believe someone is listening and that somebody cares. A just city aspires to spread the wealth across race and class. It opens doors to employment and opportunity. A just city insists on clean and adequate housing for all its residents, attractive parks for its children and families to enjoy and properly funded schools for our leaders of tomorrow. A just city keeps its streets clean of the trash because children should not be conditioned to think that filth is normal. In a just city our neighborhoods bring us together – they don’t separate us. In a just city we pull our neighbors up and we don’t push any out. When people move to Wilmington, they add to our cultural tapestry and the richness of urban life. A just city celebrates the lives of those whose deeds history has too often forgotten. It ensures that its children are properly educated and opens doors to college for those for whom higher education has been for too long an unattainable dream. And in a just city our residential and corporate communities stands shoulder to shoulder as we achieve our just city goals.