Group calls for citizen oversight of Delaware’s police

DOVER — Garrison Davis hopes George Floyd’s death is the tipping point for greater police accountability during violent interactions with the public, particularly persons of color.

He’s uncomfortable with riots and looting during nationwide protests since the police-involved death in Minnesota, but believes it shows the high level of outrage existing today. The incident in Minneapolis left a police officer charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter and three others arrested.

The Delaware for Police Oversight organization — coordinated by Mr. Davis and Shyanne Miller — and several other groups are calling for a citizen-led community review board designed to evaluate police actions statewide.

This week, DEPO publicly announced the push and Mr. Davis said a 90-minute meeting was held with Gov. John Carney at his office, along with Attorney General Kathy Jennings and Wilmington Mayor Michael Purzycki. Around 30 persons attended and Mr. Davis said that included other organizations and community members.

“(The officials) were interested in pursuing a community review board and body cameras in Wilmington,” Mr. Davis said. “What we’re looking for is to hash this out and create a specific plan moving forward.

“Of course I’d like to see this done immediately and want quick action, but I also know there are a lot of hurdles and factors that need to be addressed to do it the right way.”

According to spokesman Mat Marshall the meeting was one several with AG Jennings and community members and that “she’s grateful for the organizers’ time and voice …”

Regarding DEPO’s call to action, Mr. Marshall said, “The AG is focused closely on the need for change and believes there are concrete steps that Delaware can take to enhance transparency, ensure accountability, and protect public safety in accordance with what the people of this state expect and deserve, and in accordance with the practices of our best police officers.

“She and our senior leadership have spent the last week meeting with advocates, police, and other stakeholders soliciting feedback on her thoughts and we plan to discuss those thoughts publicly as soon as possible.”

An attempt to reach Gov. Carney’s office for comment Thursday was unsuccessful.

In a news release, DEPO said its aim was to see power given back to the people “by allowing local law enforcement to be held accountable.”

Some of the other organizers include Colby Owens, Shané Darby and Madinah Wilson, Mr. Davis said.

Specific review goals

DEPO cited specific goals for a community review board, including:

• Proactively prevent police violence, brutality, and/or use of force in Delaware communities.

• Prevent overpolicing in majority black, brown, and poor communities.

• Create a robust, community informed accountability process for when police violence, brutality, and/or use of force does occur.

• Establish alternatives to police presence in our communities.

• Review policing policies and make recommendations for changes.

• Provide a level of transparency for the public to police practices, policies, and operations.

• Access, analyze and interpret data on policing to make recommendations and for public consumption.

• Ensure officers are regularly held to the highest standards, and those who fail to meet that standard are reprimanded appropriately.

Regarding the committee makeup, DEPO pushed for:

• A majority of the formation committee be private citizens who are included at every step of the process.

• The final product and committees consist of a majority of private citizens.

• Leadership roles on the final review board only be held by private citizens.

• Funding be set aside to guarantee the sustainability of the final oversight committee through stipends for its members.

According to the DEPO news release:

“The past weekend has proven, we can no longer sit idle and hope the problem of police brutality and abuse of power goes away. It should be clear that such injustices are not only a hazard to the citizens of our great state, but they pose an economic threat as well.

“The recovery from this weekend’s has only begun, but by working with community leaders to establish a community review board, the Governor, Attorney General, and local government executives have the ability to ensure it does not happen again.”

Mr. Davis maintain there are widespread issues with police and how they negatively interact with the public.

“I can call up several people who can call up several people, all who have been abused and treated unfairly and likely know other people who have as well.”

A petition at to support the cause had 1,271 signatures at just after 4 p.m. Thursday.

To contact DEPO, email, call 365-0913 or go to its Facebook page.

Other organizations listed on the news release included Network DE, Center to Dismantle the New Jim Crow and Building People Power.