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Senate Passes Bill Expanding Review of Police Use-of-Force Incidents

The Senate last week also passed Senate Bill 148 along party lines, 14-7. This bill would expand the power of the Delaware Department of Justice’s Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust to review police use-of-force incidents that result in serious physical injury in addition to the office’s existing mandate to review all deadly-force incidents. 

To help Delaware better track whether force is applied differently when it comes to race, SB 148 also would require the division to report the race of individuals involved in use-of-force cases and specify whether race played a factor in how force was applied. 

The legislation also would make clear that deadly force includes the use of a chokehold, a practice all police in Delaware were expressly forbidden from using in 2020 except in instances where they believe deadly force is required. 

Senate Bill 148 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Hansen, Brown, Ennis, Paradee, Pinkney, Poore, Sokola, Townsend, WalshThe Senate Passed 14-7. Brown Ennis Gay Hansen Lockman Mantzavinos Paradee Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend WalshBonini Hocker Lawson Lopez Pettyjohn Richardson Wilson
Griffith, Baumbach, Bentz, Brady, Chukwuocha, Lynn, Morrison, Osienski, K.Williams, Wilson-Anton
Current Status: House Public Safety & Homeland Security 6/11/21

“Situations do arise when a police officer needs to use force when interacting with a person. However, it is critical that we help restore public trust by ensuring that there is transparency and accountability for those incidents,” said Rep. Sherry Dorsey Walker, the lead House sponsor of the bill. “Increasing the Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust’s role in use-of-force incidents and applying the ‘reasonable’ standard will greatly improve accountability in situations where an officer uses force. This is why we are working with law enforcement and the community to bring about the changes we desire to see collectively. I look forward to advancing these bills in the House.” 

SB 148 now heads to the House for consideration.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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