Gov. John Carney signed House Bill 350 Aug. 13, banning the use of chokeholds by all law enforcement agencies in Delaware.
The legislation is part of the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus Justice for All agenda, which was introduced following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“We have heard the voices calling for change and we are focused on taking meaningful action in Delaware,” Carney said. “This legislation is an important part of a broader effort to improve the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color following the brutal and senseless killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. I want to thank members of the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus for their leadership on issues around racial justice and law enforcement. Our work together will continue.”
House Bill 350 creates the crime of aggravated strangulation as a class D felony. Under the legislation, a chokehold is only justifiable when a law enforcement officer reasonably believes deadly force is necessary to protect the life of a civilian or an officer.
In June, Carney banned the use of chokeholds at State of Delaware law enforcement agencies by executive order. Carney’s Executive Order No. 41 also requires additional de-escalation and implicit bias training; prohibits law enforcement from sharing mugshots of minors; increases the availability of crisis intervention services for officers; and requires transparency around use-of-force protocols.
“Nobody should be above the law, but neither can anyone be beneath justice,” said Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “This is a real step forward for accountability in our state – one that codifies good work done by the governor in his executive order and one that we owe to so many, including the sponsors of this bill and the advocates who have called for this reform and many others. We still have work left to do, but I am heartened by the progress we are making in Delaware and grateful to those who helped make it happen.”