The City of Newark is dedicated to providing effective and impartial services, especially in the area of public safety. In light of the recent national events, it’s necessary to demonstrate the ways in which the Newark Police Department (NPD) practices competence as they enforce the laws, preserve life and property, solve problems that arise in the community and protect the rights of all citizens to live in a safe, peaceful environment.
NPD is a full-service police department that operates on a “Community Policing Philosophy.” In the past decade, the Newark Police Department has reorganized and adapted their response to crime and calls for service in the city. In 2006, there were 78 reported robberies in Newark. Working hand in hand with the community, the number of robberies was reduced to 19 in 2018 and a record low of just 18 in 2019. It takes a minute to realize that in one year alone, 60 fewer people were held up at gunpoint, physically assaulted or robbed.
For more than 23 years, the Newark Police Department has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc (CALEA). CALEA accreditation ensures that an agency is meeting the best practice standards in law enforcement and that policies and procedures follow the latest practices in the field of law enforcement. CALEA accreditation requires that policies and procedures are reviewed almost daily to meet CALEA’s annual compliance standards. Out of the nearly 18,000 police agencies in the United States, NPD is one of 733 agencies to be CALEA certified. In 2018, Newark Police was recertified as a “Gold Standard Agency with Excellence.” To achieve the Gold Standard Award, an agency must have earned at least two consecutive years of the award it’s seeking. 138 agencies nationwide – less than 1% — have earned the gold standard in the last four years.
Although we are confident sworn officers employed by the City operate with professionalism, we respond to the 8 Can’t Wait suggestions for police reforms as follows:
1. The daily use of body cameras for all police officers throughout the State of Delaware.
- The Newark Police Department requires that all Field Operations Personnel, Street Crimes Unit officers, and School Resource officers wear a body worn camera (BWC). Funding was not available to supply a BWC to every sworn officer. Additional BWCs are available for other officers to utilize when required by policy. Implementation is under way and 95% complete.
- The BWC policy was developed in accordance with the best practices determined by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice Body Worn Camera Tool Kit and other national and state resources.
2. The establishment of a civilian police review board within each police agency that has subpoena power.
- The Mayor and members of City Council can establish a review board, if they find it necessary.
3. The implementation of an Imminent Danger policy that directs police officers to not place themselves in a situation where they have to use deadly force.
- It presents significant challenges to direct a police officer not to place him or herself in deadly force situations. Unfortunately, the nature of the job is to respond to active threat situations such as active shooters or crimes involving physical violence.
- Officers are only permitted to use the degree of force that is objectively reasonable, necessary under the circumstances and proportional to the threat or resistance of a subject. An Officer should consider all information known regarding the subject and circumstances, including the seriousness of the crime or suspected offense, the level of threat or resistance presented by the subject and whether the subject is posing an immediate threat to officers or a danger to the community.
4. The recruitment and hiring of Black and Brown police officers that better reflect the demographics of our communities.
- This objective is included in the 2020-2025 Newark Police Strategic Plan. Currently, NPD sends four part-time recruiters to regional minority-focused recruiting events and engages the community to attract a diverse applicant pool.
- In 2019, the City received a total of 143 applications for the position of police officer. 68% of the applicant pool is white and the remaining 32% is classified in a minority of unknown status. The most recent census data states that 78% of the City’s population is white so it is subjective to say the agency recruited “from as broad a field of applicants as reasonably possible.”
5. The ban of the use of knee holds as acceptable in the Use of Force Continuums within all police departments.
- Existing NPD policy prohibits choke holds as follows:
- The use of a choke hold, whether applied by the baton, hands, or other body part, is prohibited unless deadly force is warranted, since death can occur from this procedure.
6. A review of the State of Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to determine if the so-called Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights is in direct conflict with the spirit and intention of FOIA. In our view, it is and requires abolishment accordingly.
- The Police Officers’ Bill of Rights in encapsulated in State law and any changes must be made by the General Assembly.
7. A review of police department’s records of disciplining or charging officers charged with misconduct.
- According to Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) standard 26.2.5 with which NPD complies, annual statistical summaries pertaining to complaints and internal affairs investigations are considered open source documents and are made available.
8. Increased crisis intervention services and ongoing proactive mental health services for police officers.
NPD utilizes an Early Warning System, which is a comprehensive program designed to help assess and evaluate employee performance and quickly address any identified concerns before disciplinary action is necessary.
It is the policy of the NPD to pursue available means by which steps are taken to provide proactive measures in employee health issues. As a basic step toward this policy, the Department will maintain a number of officers trained in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). The officers serving as members of the CISM team will be available to respond and assist officers involved in critical incidents or officers in need of their services as a result of a stressful incident. Members requiring such services will have the option of asking for the same services for a spouse or immediate family member when a situation arising on-duty creates a traumatic impact on their family. The Newark Police Department CISM Team was formed as a response to an identified need for management of traumatic stress among police personnel. The team is tasked with providing emotional support to members of the Department in the aftermath of critical or traumatic incidents and to minimize the harmful effects of critical incident stress. The primary goal of the team will be to return members to a state of normal coping and emotional well-being through appropriate peer support.
In 2020, NPD will host an Officer Wellness and Resiliency train the trainer class for its officers as well as other officers from other agencies throughout the state.
Maintaining public trust and providing transparency to members of the community is of utmost importance and we are pleased to provide answers to frequently asked questions here:
Are the police officers in the Newark Police Department being trained to de-escalate altercations by using peaceful conflict resolution strategies?
Newark Police officers complete their initial training that includes de-escalation, mental health de-escalation and unbiased policing while attending the police academy. De-escalation training teaches officers to attempt to resolve a situation using verbal skills rather than with force. If force is necessary, officers are taught to resort to less lethal forms of force when practical. Newark Police receive refresher training annually in these topics, along with legal training on the Fourth Amendment and the latest related caselaw.
1. Are the police officers in the Newark Police Department prohibited from using carotid restraints (chokeholds, strangleholds, etc.)?
- The use of a chokehold, whether applied by the hands, other body part or with a weapon, is prohibited by longstanding Newark Police Department policy unless deadly force is warranted, since death can occur from this procedure. These are not methods officers are trained on or authorized to perform.
2. Are the police officers in the Newark Police Department required to intervene if they witness another officer using excessive force? Will officers be reprimanded if they fail to intervene?
- Newark Police Department policy provides that any officer who observes another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances shall intercede, when feasible, to prevent the use of such excessive force, so long as doing so does not pose a safety risk. Officers shall immediately report these observations to a supervisor and document the observations prior to the end of shift. A violation of policy, including failure to intervene, will be investigated and an officer will be disciplined if it is found that policy is violated.
3. Are the officers in the Newark Police Department required to give a verbal warning to citizens before drawing their weapon or using force?
- Officers are trained that giving verbal warnings or commands are always an officer’s first option before drawing a weapon or using force. However, every incident is handled on a case-by-case basis based on the facts known to the officer in that incident. The officer must balance the ability and time necessary to provide a warning with the imminent danger and risk of serious physical injury or death faced by both the officer and the involved citizens. As the United States Supreme Court has stated, “police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments — in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving — about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.” (Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 397 (1989)).
4. Are the officers in the Newark Police Department required to report each time they threaten to or use force on citizens?
- Police officers understand that they have been entrusted with the authority to lawfully use force to protect life and property and to apprehend criminal offenders. Therefore, the Department properly documents and reviews each use of force to maintain the public’s confidence and trust. Police officers are required to report each use of force likely to cause pain or injury and each time they draw and point a weapon at a citizen.
5. Are the officers in the Newark Police Department trained to perform and seek necessary medical action after using force?
- Police officers receive training in CPR, use of an AED and medical training in the police academy. They receive refresher training in these areas every other year per the regulations of the Delaware Council on Police Training. Officers are responsible for providing and obtaining medical aid for individuals who complain of, or show signs of injury, as a result of any use of force by an officer. Officers will transport the individual to a medical treatment facility or request an ambulance and begin medical evaluation and care of such individuals as soon as practical.