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Last updated Wednesday, November 26, 2014

 
 

Joseph Bryant, director of public safety, told County Council that county police officials are "talking about" establishing a citizen advisory committee. "What we're doing [now] is coming out of our own heads," he said, indicating a desire to augment that with so-called 'input' and 'feedback' from the community.

He gave Council members a short briefing on the local perspective on rioting in Ferguson, Mo., and demonstrations in some cities around the country at a meeting of Council's finance committee on Nov. 25.

Neither Bryant nor police chief Elmer Setting, who also was at the meeting, give any details about how such a committee would be organized and function. They also did not indicate if there is a timetable for deciding whether to proceed with the idea.

It was disclosed at the meeting that the county police force is "field testing" body cameras, with the aim of equipping the entire force with them. They are small cordless, battery-operated digital cameras worn on an officer's uniform to record such things as interaction with the public and law-enforcement incidents. Some have suggested that such a camera would have helped clarify conflicting accounts of the incident which led to the shooting last summer of a young man in the St. Louis suburb. Rioting occurred after a grand jury declined to return any indictments against the officer involved.

Bryant stopped well short of claiming that such an incident couldn't happen here. But he went on to say it would be "handled differently" with respect to the levels of police response up to the use of deadly force.

If there had been public demonstrations here, "we would have been ready to handle it," he said. County, city of Wilmington and State Police have plans for cooperative effort which would have been followed if an unfounded report of a public demonstration planned in downtown Wilmington after the grand jury decision was announced had materialized. "All police personnel are trained to deal with civil unrest," Bryant said.

 

 

All content, unless otherwise noted, by Jim Parks

 

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