Members of the McDole family had their opportunity to discuss use of force policy changes with Wilmington police on Tuesday.
The McDole family members planned to speak alongside their lawyers afterwards – but attorney Tom Neuberger says they weren’t up for it after meeting with Wilmington police Tuesday afternoon.
After speaking to family members and Chief Bobby Cummings, Neuberger is cautiously optimistic changes are being made to the police department’s policies.
“It appears that Jeremy McDole will not have died in vain," Neuberger said. "The loss of his life – while it was tragic – will ensure greater protections for minority members and the poor who encounter Wilmington police officers on the street.”
Neuberger adds Cummings informed him the police department plans to adopt an objective use of force standard – modeled after similar policies being adopted in Seattle and Cleveland.
“This means that no officer can say: I was afraid, I thought I needed to use my weapon," Neuberger said. "Instead, when considering all the circumstances, a reasonable person will have to agree that the officer was entitled to use force.”
Neuberger says the current policy is too subjective.
“So this gives patrolmen on the police anywhere a license to kill," Neuberger said. "Because you can always say when you’re being investigated: I feared for my life and I thought I had to shoot him. Even if it’s a little boy with a water pistol.”
Neuberger says he and McDole family members are waiting to see the new policy in writing. Mayor Purzycki’s spokesman John Rago says the use of force policy hasn’t been finalized yet.
Neuberger says Cummings also told him the police department plans to require 6.5 annual hours of officer training on topics including mental health and de-escalation - but it’s unclear when that will begin.
The McDole family couldn't be reached for comments Tuesday, but Neuberger said there won’t be any further meetings between the McDole family and Wilmington police.