Media, PA – District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer released a report of the Delaware County Criminal Justice Reform Task Force’s Working Group on 21st Century Policing that calls for increased policing training and community engagement efforts to more closely align our local police with the principles articulated by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing in 2015.
“The Presidential Task Force identified six pillars on which local law enforcement agencies can build solid foundations to serve all members of our diverse 21st Century communities.” said Stollsteimer. “Our Working Group was comprised of police officers and their chiefs, local elected officials, and community members. We collectively learned, through frank and at times uncomfortable conversation, that while our local police do a great job of serving all members of our community here in Delco, given the right resources, we believe we can build even more positive police-community relations in the years to come.” Stollsteimer continued.
“The keys to 21st Century Policing in Delco are professional training for our officers and proactive community engagement.” said Nether Providence Police Chief David Splain, Chief of the Delaware County Police Chiefs Association. “Through our Working Group discussion, we’ve identified diversity, sensitivity and implicit bias training as critical for every police officer in our county.” Splain continued. “We are also asking our local and state officials to help us obtain funding for dash or body cameras to ensure the safety of both the community and our police officers. Currently, only ten of the 43 law enforcement agencies that we surveyed use body and/or dash cameras, primarily because of the costs involved.” said Splain.
Another area of emphasis for the Working Group was police department accreditation, the process by which police departments are evaluated by their peers on 139 professional standards, including such areas as written “use of force” policies. “The accreditation process is critical to ensuring our police are the best public safety and law enforcement
professionals they can possibly be.” said Chief Joseph Daly of the Springfield Police Department, one of five accredited law enforcement agencies in the county. “The accreditation process builds positive community relations as well, by assuring all our residents that we are following best practices in all aspects of our work to serve and protect them.” Daly said.
Perhaps most importantly, the Working Group made specific recommendations to encourage police departments to pro-actively engage the community in order to break down barriers and build bridges. “Community policing is alive and well in Delaware County.” said Yeadon Police Chief Anthony Paparo. “Our officers see themselves as public servants and the vast majority of police interactions are positive.” Paparo continued.
“Through the Working Group process, we learned how committed our police are to positive community relations.” said Myron McNeely, Chair of the Criminal Justice Reform Committee of the Delco Black Caucus. “However we all recognize the need to do more; more investment in recreational activities like the Police Athletic League (PAL), designed to engage our underserved youth with positive police interactions; more active involvement with our clergy through the Delco Police Chaplin program; and more engagement through teams of community leaders and local elected officials working with their police leadership to organize events to break down perceived or real walls between our black and brown community members and the police who serve them.” McNeeley continued.
“This report is, we believe, just part of the process of ensuring our county government plays a meaningful role in ensuring that everyone in our diverse county is treated with dignity and respect.” said County Councilmember Elaine Schaefer. “After all, we all deserve nothing less.”
For press inquiries, please contact Margie McAboy, Public Information Officer, Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, 610-579-0429. A copy of the report is available at the County’s website.