Justice Reform Task Force receives ample applications

Salisbury officials have stopped accepting applications for its new Criminal Justice Reform Task Force ahead of the original June 30 deadline after they were overwhelmed by the response.

In the first few days, 215 applications were submitted by people interested in serving on the task force, said Acting Mayor and City Administrator Julia Glanz.

“We’ve never gotten that many before,” she said.

By comparison, the city received 50 applications fort its Lynching Memorial Task Force which at the time was the highest number of applications submitted for any sort of city board or task force, Glanz said.

The 215 applications will be reviewed by a selection committee and follow-up questionnaires will be sent out before the finalists are picked. The task force will have 15 voting members with some ex-officio members.

The role of the task force will be to propose city, county and state institutional changes to law, policy and procedure. It comes in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers that has spurred weeks of demonstrations across the country and calls for reforms to police departments.

Salisbury’s task force is one of several initiatives outlined by Chief Barbara Duncan and Mayor Jake Day in March as part of an effort to ensure transparency and boost public confidence in the police department that has been rocked by several internal investigations.

The Salisbury Police Department Comprehensive Trust Rebuilding Initiative was drafted in response to a series of officer-related incidents of misconduct, including an evidence mishandling case dating to 2011, a Salisbury police officer arrested in another jurisdiction and another Salisbury officer charged in Delaware of threatening a civilian with a gun.

In addition to the creation of the Criminal Justice Reform Task Force, the guidelines are:

  • 100 percent inventory of Property Room under supervision of independent forensic auditor in partnership with Maryland State Police, Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office and Office of the Public Defender.
  • Revive the Citizen Police Academy.
  • Update property room staff structure and authorities.
  • Update property/evidence policies and procedures. 
  • Launch police complaint mediation program.
  • Launch new pathways for citizen complaints.
  • Launch citizen review of Police Department policies. 
  • Continue/expand community relationship building.
  • Continue youth engagement.
  • Explore and launch new deployment tactics. 
  • Field a Community Policing Team.
  • Improve recruiting/retention with public safety tax incentives, expanded benefits package.
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