The state of Delaware wants to know how you feel about your local police department. It’s part of the Access to Justice Initiative, the goal of which is to ultimately improve the state’s criminal justice system. Delaware Supreme Court Justice Leo Strine is the driver behind the survey, which will be available online until the end of October at http://courts.delaware.gov/supreme/access.aspx or https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DEPolice.
It’s an anonymous survey where you’ll be asked to identify law enforcement departments you’ve had contact with in the last six months. The survey was intentionally drafted to be Delaware-specific to avoid opinions regarding national policing incidents. So, how do you feel about your interactions with police in your community and throughout the state?
Here are some of the sample questions:
• If you had contact with a police officer within the last six months, did you feel you were treated fairly?
• Do you feel safe in your community?
• Do you know any police officers that work in your community by name?
• How well do you understand the risks and challenges that police officers face on the job?
• Do the citizens of Delaware treat police officers with respect?
• Do Delaware police officers treat black citizens with respect?
As for me, a recent experience with a police officer in my community was a positive interaction, where I felt I was treated fairly. I was coming back from Broadkill Beach, nearing my house, when I didn’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign. The officer followed me back to my house, and when I got out of the car (I know, I broke a police etiquette rule!), he told me why he was there. I realized I knew the police officer because he had been in my community that spring for an incident involving one of my neighbors. I told him that, and that broke the ice. He remembered me because I provided additional information on that case.
Back to the stop sign incident: The officer asked for my license and registration, and I had that sickening feeling in my stomach that I was going to get a citation. But that’s not what happened: the officer gave me a gentle warning about stopping at stop signs, and I was surprised and grateful. I saw the officer the next week when I was in town riding my bike, and I told him that the warning changed my behavior at that stop sign and thanked him.