The Access to Justice Committee on Fairness has joined with the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council and the Fraternal Order of Police to launch a survey on policing in Delaware.
The survey is part of an ongoing effort to ensure that the state’s criminal justice system works as fairly and efficiently as possible for all Delawareans. That comprehensive look has, among other things, involved:
— Taking a look at the state’s problem-solving courts and undertaking efforts to make them more effective.
— Proposing important reforms to the system of pretrial supervision to reduce the toll of monetary bail on low-risk offenders.
— Supporting the general assembly’s call to rationalize and improve the clarity, fairness and proportionality of the criminal code.
— Developing a systematic approach to institutionalizing training for personnel in the criminal justice system to reduce the effects of implicit bias on decriminalization in the criminal court system.
— Examining ways to make the judicial system more accessible to ordinary citizens and more convenient for key constituents like police, correctional officers, witnesses, prosecutors, defense counsel and jurors.
As part of that work, the Fairness Committee considers it vital to gather input from the public and experts, and has undertaken public hearings, solicitations for comment from key policymakers and academics and used other tools to ensure that those the justice system serves have a chance to be heard.
The survey recently launched is part of that ongoing effort to examine key components of the justice system and to better understand how both those who serve the public and the public itself feel about critical issues. The survey is designed to elicit comments from three groups — police officers, probation officers and members of the public. The survey focuses on issues such as mutual understanding between law enforcement and the communities they serve, the quality of life and working conditions of law enforcement officers and the level of satisfaction and trust communities have with their police forces.
The survey was developed with input from Professor MacDonald and other respected scholars and members of the Fairness Committee, including members of law enforcement and key community leaders. The results of the survey will be used to identify important issues that should be the focus of examination and further empirical work to be commissioned by the Fairness Committee and the Chiefs’ Council going forward.
The law enforcement organizations and the Fairness Committee have worked together with the Administrative Office of the Courts to make the survey available to police officers in Delaware through law enforcement organizations, and the Chiefs’ Council is encouraging participation among its members.
Commissioner Perry Phelps, of the Department of Correction, is encouraging input from the probation and parole officers. The goal is to make sure that members of law enforcement have a chance to be heard on the issues relevant to their important role in protecting the public and the quality of life they have as officers.
The Fairness Committee and Chiefs’ Council have worked together to develop as broad a list as possible of community organizations such as neighborhood associations, nonprofits, civic organizations and churches within all the communities in Delaware and will be reaching out to those groups to encourage them to urge their members and neighbors to respond to the survey.
The public survey is available online in English and Spanish at courts.delaware.gov/supreme/access.aspx.