Blacks In Law Enforcement of America Recommendations
The county has come into a state of independent oversight and accountability. There is a cry for oversight and accountability for big businesses such as Wall Street, the mortgage industry, and even the automotive industry.
If our voices, when united, can be heard to affect change and demand accountability from our government leaders on corporate institutions, then we must express our outrage when there is no actual oversight of our local law enforcement departments that are paid by our tax dollars to protect adequately and serve our families?
As a national organization of Black Law Enforcement Professionals, we recognize the need for oversight of policy and procedure and accountability of law enforcement when it comes to “Use of Force” policies and legislation.
The Eric Garner case proved to us that a video of the incident, the NYPD Commissioner stating that a chokehold violated Department Policy and the Medical Examiner ruling the death of Mr. Garner a Homicide. Yet with all this evidence, there was no impact on the District Attorney’s office bringing any charges against the officer in the result of Mr. Garner’s death.
Whether they want to admit in or not, the District Attorneys office and our local municipalities are presented with the challenge of investigating a related officer. First, the municipality has to investigate an officer who they consider to be “one of their own.” Second, the municipality has to decide how they can proceed with its investigation in a manner that will preserve its relationships with the police department and that police officer.
As a National Organization of Law Enforcement Professionals, we present logical choices that should be presented in local, state or federal legislation to remove the burden of District Attorneys and the assumption bias in any investigation of a law enforcement officer’s actions that result in a death of a subject.
- State Legislation must define police Criminality.
- ALL Law Enforcement Officers that carry a weapon on and off- duty and have the powers under NYS Criminal Law Section 2.10 to make warrantless arrests, and the use of deadly force must have legislation that will define what actions are criminal in nature. If any Law Enforcement Officer that is certified by New York State and has received comprehensive training by certified institutions of Law Enforcement of the state of New York then goes into a community violates policy, procedure, and training while abusing the authority that they have been empowered with, is in essence, a criminal themselves. It is time for Politicians and lawmakers to define in state legislation Police Criminality.
- An Officers Duty to Intercede
- To amend Use of Force Policies to require Officers to intercede when witnessing other officers violate Use of Force or Deadly force training and departmental policies. It is the duty of an officer to stop any criminal act even if a fellow officer is committing the criminal offense.
- The Need for a State Wide Special Prosecutor.
- The legislation must create a statewide independent investigative unit that will investigate any incidents of alleged Police Criminality from the start when evidence collection and interviewing witnesses. This is the most important part of any investigation. If necessary, the independent unit will prosecute. The legislation must provide resources to municipalities so that they can meet the requirements of the legislation.
- NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has stated that his office can play the role in an independent investigator and prosecutor. As a national organization Law Enforcement Professionals we have a problem with his offering. AG Schneiderman is in his second term. He and his office have remained silent in the many shootings of black and brown men and women under his watch. He has had several high profile cases that have made national news before the Eric Garner with many requests for Independent Investigators from families of victims of Police Criminality. If AG Schneiderman is sincere in his officering; he should open up all cases of incidents of questionable police shootings that happen under his watch as Attorney General. If not, his officer is just political symbolism without any substance.
- The need for Independent Civilian Complaint Review Boards (CCRB)
- The Independent CCRB should be structured with private citizens serving alongside non-uniformed retired law enforcement officers. Specific legislation should be passed by municipalities that will empower the board to receive, hear, make findings and recommend action on complaints against Law Enforcement agency of the municipalities’ jurisdiction, which alleges the use of excessive or unnecessary force, abuse of authority, discourtesy, misconduct, or the use of offensive language. Investigations are conducted in an impartial fashion by the board’s investigative staff. All investigations will be in partnership and alongside the law enforcement agencies investigators that complaint has been filed against. Complaints may be made by any person whether or not that person is a victim of, or witness to, an incident as determined by the board, dispositions may be accompanied by recommendations regarding disciplinary measures and policy changes.
- The need for Police to live in the community they Serve.
- Police officers like the public should live in the community they swore to protect and serve. Police who live in the community are considered “Stake Holders” in the community and can build a closer bond and friendship. Police management has claimed to use the Community Policing theory without having the key component, police that lives in the community.
- Residency requirements have been upheld and deemed to be constitutional by the Federal Courts so long as the employing jurisdiction has demonstrated some “rational” basis for the provision.1 In Clinton Police Department Bargaining Unit v. City of Clinton (464 N.W.2d 875, Iowa); the court upheld a city requirement that employees live within 10 miles of their duty station. The court found that “rational” interests included such things as having employees available for emergency calls, employees having a stake in the community, enhancing the tax base, improving community attitudes and cooperation, increasing loyalty to the community, and reducing absenteeism.
- Having residency requirements, especially in communities that are majority community of color will increase the chance that Police Departments can reflect the communities they serve.
It is the view of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America that proper representation of Black Law Enforcement Professionals is essential when dealing with the issues of:
- Departmental promotions and management.
- Establishment of departmental policies and identifying the effect that the policies have on communities in New York State, especially the communities of color
- Police Criminality, misconduct and excessive force.
- Effective community policing.
As America becomes more of a military state, law enforcement careers are more appealing in most communities. However, the number of black recruits is dramatically declining. Whereas, the number of black males with criminal records before 18-year-olds is on the incline as the result of overzealous policing policies like “Stop N Frisk and “Broken Windows”.
Additionally, many African Americans, male or female, that are eligible for law enforcement jobs do not look to law enforcement careers because of the overwhelming resentment and distrust towards the police that exists within the Black community. Where will we find young black men and women to fill the ranks after our senior black officer’s retire? If this pattern is allowed to continue, within the next 60 years there will be almost no Black Law Enforcement Professionals within the state of New York.
Statistics have shown that “Every 28 hours a young black man is killed by police and “Only 2% of police are indicted. On December 14, 2012, twenty children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. By January 15, 2013, Governor Cuomo signed state legislation that gave New York some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. If “Black Lives Matter”, we should expect the same zeal in passing legislation for oversight and a State Wide Special Prosecutor in the 2015 legislative session.
It is our duty as Peace Officers and members of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America to continue the fight for freedom, justice, and equality for all citizens. We will be advocates of law enforcement professionals by establishing continuous training and support. As black law enforcement professionals, we pledge our time, honor, and talent for the uplifting of our communities. Our role is not to be the oppressors; our task is to be the protectors in and out of our blue uniform.
Damon K. Jones
New York RepresentativeBlacks In Law Enforcement of America
Blacks In Law Enforcement of America