The following letter was sent to all 24 mayors in Sussex County:
I am writing to you on behalf of the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice (SDARJ), a local non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating racial injustice through education, information, and advocacy. In the after- math of the tragic death of George Floyd and too many others at the hands of police officers, we are redoubling our focus on criminal justice reform, particularly in Sussex County. I hope you and your council will join us in an effort to evaluate current practices in your police department, to reform those that require change, and to develop an on-going dialogue with your community to build trust and with your state and federal representatives to secure changes at those levels as well as the funds to implement reforms and training.
There are many suggestions for beginning this evaluation and reform. I’d like to refer you to the one developed by the Equal Justice Initiative, which is headed by Milton native son Bryan Stevenson. We believe it makes comprehensive and yet concise recommendations that can serve as a starting point for dialogue and change in your community. The full text of their recommendations can be found at eji.org/issues/policing-in-america/. They seek to improve public safety by building trust and changing police cultures through detailed action in the following ten areas:
1. Document and expose problems
2. Change police culture
3. Ban and criminalize excessive use of force
4. Empower citizens to shape policy and hiring
5. Confront history of racial injustice
6. Require training of officers to be responsive to the needs of the community
7. Mandate independent prosecution when citizens are killed
8. Eliminate qualified immunity
9. Invest in community health and crime reduction
10. Incentivize and create more diverse police departments.
I particularly want to draw your attention to and urge your support of a review of your city’s use of force policies and your mechanisms for reviewing police discipline issues. SDARJ is prepared to work with you and your community through our monthly town halls that highlight many of these issues as well as special programs such as our Dialogue to Action.
Charlotte King, Chair
Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice