The Vote Smart Justice platform focuses on 4 categories:
The Vote Smart Justice campaign demands that Wilmington elected officials implement policy changes that will result in fair, transparent and ethical policing for all Wilmington residents.
Wilmington’s mayor and city council members are legislators who are democratically elected to lead the city and enact policies that create opportunity and prosperity to its residents. The mayor and city council members have a difficult and important job, and have a great deal of responsibility for overseeing the local police department.
City council members have the power to:
Oversee performance and effectiveness of the local public employees and programs
Establish regulations, including maintaining police departments
Respond to constituent needs and complaints
Pass ordinances and resolutions
In addition to the powers of the city council, mayors oversee the city’s daily operations and have the power to veto measures passed by the city council.
If the mayor and city council members use their power to promote better policing approaches, we could dramatically increase public trust in our police department.
Too little information about police departments and officers is made public. This lack of transparency prevents the Wilmington community from knowing what decisions are being made or the outcomes of those decisions. Fully transparent practices and outcomes improve decision-making, allow the public to hold the city council and police accountable, and enable the public to push for change in the future. Our next council members must commit to tracking and publishing details and statistics about police misconduct, arrests, stops and use of force, including disparities that these activities may produce.
Body-worn cameras may result in better transparency and accountability, and ultimately may improve law enforcement legitimacy. Video footage captured during officer-community interactions can help support or dismiss accounts conveyed by police officers and community members and lead to faster resolution of complaints that allege excessive use of force and other misconduct. Our next city council members must commit to implementing body-worn cameras, require that the cameras are turned on during all police and community interactions and that footage is subject to public records requests.
Many community members believe that police departments do a poor job of holding police officers accountable when misconduct occurs. With police institutions having much power to deprive people of their liberties and their life, there is a need to (1) hold police officers accountable for unjustified use of deadly force against community members, and (2) hold police officers accountable for the routine violations and grievances that go unresolved and result in resentment from community members. Our next city council members must commit to establishing and financially supporting civilian review boards that have subpoena, discipline and policy review authority.
The Operation Safe Streets and the Governor’s Task Force (OSS/GTF) allows police officers and probation officers to jointly police those on probation, including by conducting warrantless searches in their homes, cars, and on the street. According to the last publicly available data on OSS/GTF, Between 1999 and 2006, OSS/GTF arrested a total of 11,670 people—45% of them were not the person OSS/GTF was actually monitoring at the time. Demonstrating that OSS/GTF is not only monitoring those on probation, but their communities and families as well. Our next city council members must commit to discontinuing OSS/GTF that leads to Black communities being overpoliced.
The death of Breonna Taylor made it all too clear to civilians that police can kill them in their own homes without recourse. Since her death, Louisville, Kentucky has banned “no-knock” warrants. Our next council members must ensure that law enforcement are limited to enter a private premise only by knocking and making their presence known.
Delaware’s forfeiture laws allow for police to seize property unless an owner can prove that the evidence is not forfeitable. Thus, the burden of proof is on the property owners to demonstrate that their property being seized has nothing to do with illegal activity. Moreover, law enforcement is incentivized to seize property because it creates revenue for the Special Law Enforcement Assistance Fund, which they are not obligated to publicly account for. Our next city council members must end this practice of this low bar to seize property, assets and money from civilians, especially black and brown people.
#VoteSmartJusticeDE is a nonpartisan education campaign funded by the ACLU of Delaware Action Fund. The ACLU of Delaware does not endorse candidates.