The State Senate unanimously passed legislation Thursday to require all police officers in Delaware to wear body-worn cameras while interacting with the public and mandate the development the state’s first universal policy governing their use. House Bill 195 has already passed the House, so the bill now goes to the Governor.
Under the soon to be law, the state would be required to work toward implementing a statewide body-worn camera program once funding is available to procure cameras, establish a central data storage system to house body-camera footage and hire necessary personnel. The Fiscal Year 2022 operating budget includes $5.2 million to implement a statewide body-worn camera program for police officers.
The legislation further instructs the Council on Police Training to create regulations and standards for the use of body-worn cameras by all police officers no later than January 15, 2022. The council would be required to hold at least two public meetings to solicit input from victims’ rights advocates, community groups and the public before proposing its final recommendations to the Attorney General.
Mandating the use of body-worn cameras by police officers is overwhelmingly supported by most Americans. A 2020 poll found that 88% of respondents said they supported requiring the use of body-worn cameras.
Nearly half of Delaware’s 46 police agencies – including New Castle County, Newark and Milford police departments – currently use body-worn cameras, with Wilmington and Dover police departments joining them soon. However, there is no universal, mandatory policy governing the use of body-worn cameras in Delaware.
According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, only seven states currently mandate the statewide use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement officers. Six of those states have enacted their policies since May 2020.
|House Bill 195 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Dorsey Walker, Cooke, Lynn, Minor-Brown, Baumbach, Bennett, Bentz, Chukwuocha, Griffith, Morrison, K.Williams||House Passed 41-0. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Brady Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick||None|
|Brown, Pinkney, Gay, S.McBride, Paradee, Sokola, Sturgeon, Townsend||Senate Passed 21-0. Brown Ennis Gay Hansen Lockman Mantzavinos Paradee Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh Bonini Hocker Lawson Lopez Pettyjohn Richardson Wilson|
|Current Status —||Sent to the Governor|
“Equipping police officers with body-worn cameras will help to protect them and our communities by preserving an accurate record of all interactions for everyone’s safety,” said Senator Darius Brown, the Senate prime sponsor of HB 195.
“The Delaware Legislative Black Caucus made a commitment last summer to advance legislation that improves transparency and accountability in policing,” he said. “This legislation helps to do both and I thank my colleagues in the Delaware General Assembly for taking this proactive step to expand the use of this critical new technology across police departments in our state.”
“Body-worn cameras have the ability to be a game-changer in police-community relations. They greatly improve transparency and accountability while providing increased protection for both the police and the community,” said Rep. Sherry Dorsey Walker, HB 195’s lead sponsor. “The Delaware Legislative Black Caucus pledged to bring this and other reforms forward as part of our Justice for All Agenda, and we are continuing to deliver on that promise. This collaborative effort between the community, police, Department of Justice and lawmakers to implement universal body camera usage throughout our state is another step forward toward achieving our goal.”