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Our goal is to allow members of our organization and citizens of Central New Jersey to know of the many events we participate in the community, as well as share any important news.

 

U.S. police chiefs group apologizes for ‘historical mistreatment’ of minorities

IACP president Terrence Cunningham hopes that all sides can work to “break this historic cycle of mistrust”
The head of a major, U.S.-headquartered group representing senior police worldwide has acknowledged and apologized for law enforcement’s past actions and role in America’s “historical mistreatment” of minorities.

Terrence Cunningham, who heads the police force of Wellesley, Mass., made the apology as president of the nonprofit International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). The Washington Post reports that the apology — made during the group’s convention in San Diego — was on behalf of the organization, whose members include 23,000 U.S. police chiefs as well as senior officers from dozens of countries across the globe.

Cunningham reportedly spoke of “multigenerational — almost inherited — mistrust” between U.S. minorities and police. According to the Post, he said that the first step in “changing the future” of that relationship was “for law enforcement and the IACP to acknowledge and apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/true-crime/wp/2016/10/17/head-of-u-s-police-chiefs-apologizes-for-historic-mistreatment-of-minorities/

At Hearing On NYPD Force, The ’5,000-Pound Elephant In The Room’ Is ‘Broken Windows’

by Christopher Mathias, Huffington Post

NEW YORK — It took two hours during Monday’s packed City Council hearing with NYPD Commissioner William Bratton for someone to mention “broken windows.” It was council member Robert Cornegy (D-Brooklyn) who finally broached the subject, calling the controversial policing strategy the “5,000-pound elephant in the room.”
Cornegy made the remark while questioning Bratton about the NYPD’s continued crackdown on subway dancers, a classic example of the policing theory that holds that targeting low-level offenses helps curb more serious crime.
“I’m extremely concerned that too many New Yorkers just doing what they do to get by in these tough times are being charged with crimes even when their activities are classified as violations and not misdemeanors,” Cornegy told Bratton, adding that the crackdown could amount to “the over-criminalizing of New Yorkers participating” in an “informal economy.”

Bratton, who championed broken windows policing during an earlier stint as NYPD commissioner in the ‘90s, responded sternly that subway cars are “not for dancing” and that the performers are a danger to passengers.
To the disappointment of many in the audience, this brief exchange, and a couple short discussions later in the hearing, were the closest New York has come to a formal, public debate on broken windows. Monday’s hearing instead centered around Bratton’s new plan to retrain 20,000 NYPD officers every year. The retraining, which would cost $25 million to $30 million a year, would focus on defusing conflicts with uncooperative suspects, the proper use of force, and using summonses and warnings as alternatives to arrest.
The changes stem from the death of Eric Garner this summer. Garner, a black 43-year-old father of six, died after a white NYPD officer, Daniel Pantaleo, put him into a banned chokehold during an arrest in Staten Island for selling untaxed cigarettes. A viral video shows Garner screaming “I can’t breathe!” numerous times before his body goes limp. A medical examiner ruled his death homicide.
The death spurred intense criticism of broken windows, with critics arguing that there’s no evidence to support its effectiveness in preventing serious crime. A NY Daily News analysis showed the dramatic racial disparities in how low-level crimes are enforced in New York.
“There was no real need to arrest Mr. Garner or to use the level of force that we all saw on the video tape,” Alex Vitale, a sociology professor at Brooklyn College, said in a statement submitted to the council Monday. “A civilian inspector could just as easily come and issued a citation. For those who think arrest is a better solution I will point out that Mr. Garner was arrested dozens of previous times and it seems to have had no positive impact on his behavior or life circumstances.”

There are “civilian alternatives to relying on police work” for enforcing low-level crimes, Vitale added, that “are much cheaper to implement, more effective, and less likely to have long term negative consequences for those who are currently arrested and ticketed.” Daneil Loehr, an investigator with legal group the Bronx Defenders, spoke during “public comment” portion of Monday’s hearing, after all but two city council members and most reporters had left.

“Training can only do so much while the strategy of broken windows policing remains intact,” Loehr said. “Whether the officers are trained or not, the encounters designed by broken windows policing increase the odds of misconduct and created distrust due to the volume of police encounters it generates and the disparate targeting of communities of color.”

Josmar Trujillo, of New Yorkers Against Bratton, told HuffPost he was disappointed at the “softball questions” many council members posed to Bratton.

He said the call for training, although a “politically savvy” response to Garner’s death, does little to address the “fundamental” problems with broken windows. The council, Trujillo added, needs a hearing on broken windows “immediately.”
Since Garner’s death, a handful of council members and other New York lawmakers have publicly criticized broken windows. After Monday’s hearing, council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told reporters that the policing strategy “would be something that we would want to cover possibly in a subsequent hearing.”

But even if the council were to reform the NYPD’s embrace of broken wndows, it’s unclear whether Mayor Bill de Blasio would support such a move. Despite coming into office this year with a promise to end stop and frisk, and to improve the NYPD’s relationship with communities of color, de Blasio has thus far been steadfast in his support of Bratton’s use of broken windows.

Attorney General Holder Announces Next Steps to Address Concerns Regarding the City of Ferguson and St. Louis County Police Departments

holderWASHINGTON- Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the Justice Department has launched two initiatives to address concerns about police services in the city of Ferguson and in St. Louis County, Missouri. First, in addition to the ongoing criminal civil rights investigation, the Civil Rights Division has opened a civil pattern or practice investigation into allegations of unlawful policing by the City of Ferguson Police Department (FPD). Second, the Attorney General announced that the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office has launched a Collaborative Reform Initiative with the St. Louis County Police Department (SLCPD).

“The Department of Justice is working across the nation to ensure that the criminal justice system is fair, constitutional and free of bias,” said Attorney General Holder. “The interventions in Missouri are an important part of that commitment. While there is much work left to do, we feel confident that there are solutions to any issues we find and that community trust in law enforcement can be restored and maintained. Ferguson and St. Louis County are not the first places that we have become engaged to ensure fair and equitable policing and they will not be the last. The Department of Justice will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the Constitution has meaning for all communities.”

The pattern or practice investigation will look at whether officers of the Ferguson Police Department have engaged in systemic violations of the Constitution or federal law. The investigation will focus on the Ferguson Police Department’s use of force, including deadly force; stops, searches and arrests; discriminatory policing; and treatment of detainees inside Ferguson’s city jail by Ferguson police officers. The department will consider all relevant information, particularly the efforts that FPD has undertaken to ensure compliance with federal law, and the experiences and views of the community.

Over the past five fiscal years, the Civil Rights Division has opened over 20 pattern or practice investigations into police departments across the country, which is more than twice as many as were opened in the previous five fiscal years. The division is enforcing 14 agreements to reform law enforcement practices at agencies both large and small. These agreements have already resulted in tangible changes in these communities by ensuring constitutional policing, enhancing public safety and making the job of delivering police services safer and more effective.

The investigation is being conducted by attorneys and staff from Civil Rights Division. They will be assisted by experienced law enforcement experts. The department encourages anyone wishing to provide relevant information to contact the department at 1-855-856-2132, or via email at community.ferguson@usdoj.gov.

The COPS Collaborative Reform Technical Assistance process with the SLCPD is a voluntary process that will include an open, independent and objective assessment of key operational areas of the police department, such as training, use of force, handling mass demonstrations, stops, searches, arrests, and fair and impartial policing. The assessment will include the SLCPD police academy which trains officers for many police departments in the region, including the FPD. The findings of this assessment, and recommendations to address any deficiencies that it uncovers, will be provided in a public report and shared with the community. Additionally, SLCPD Chief Jon Belmar has requested that COPS conduct an after action report on the SLCPD’s response to the protests following the shooting of Michael Brown.

The Collaborative Reform process is an initiative in which the COPS Office, in partnership with a designated technical assistance provider and subject matter experts, works with a law enforcement agency to assess an issue that affects police and community relationships. Grounded in the principles of constitutional policing and procedural justice, it is a means to organizational transformation through an analysis of policies, practices, training, and tactics around a specific issue that can jeopardize an agency’s legitimacy within its community. It is not a short term solution for a serious deficiency, but a long term strategy that identifies the issues within an agency that affect public trust and offers recommendations on how to improve the issue and enhance the relationship between the police and the community.

The Collaborative Reform process was initially launched in 2011. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department was the first agency to participate and complete the process, which resulted in the adoption of over 75 recommendations regarding the use of force. The COPS Office is currently working with the Philadelphia and Spokane police departments with this process.

“Today we are launching a comprehensive review of the Ferguson Police Department to assess whether police practices are constitutional and fair in Ferguson,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Civil Rights Division. “We are encouraged by the pledge of cooperation from Mayor Knowles and Chief Jackson, and we look forward to working with them as our process moves forward.”

“The recent disturbances in Ferguson have revealed significant mistrust between the community and police agencies throughout the county, including the St. Louis County Police Department,” said COPS Director Davis. “The county has expressed a strong desire to take steps to create a relationship of trust and to ensure fairness and equity in its policing practices, and I applaud St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar for seeking technical assistance and agreeing to the Collaborative Reform process. The advancements that will be made through this effort will not only benefit the St. Louis county police department; they will serve as a model for all police agencies in the region and throughout the nation.”

The department is also conducting in a thorough, fair and independent criminal investigation into the circumstances of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown on in Ferguson on Aug. 9, 2014. Although the department is working cooperatively with the local investigators, the federal investigation supplements, but does not supplant, the St. Louis County Police Department’s investigation into the shooting incident. The initiatives announced today are also separate from the ongoing current criminal investigations related to the death of Michael Brown.

The Civil Rights Division has an ongoing, separate investigation of the St. Louis County Juvenile Court to determine whether it engages in patterns or practices of violations of young people’s rights. The section is assessing whether there are violations of due process, equal protection or access to counsel. Anyone wishing to provide information related to that investigation can email the department at Community.StLouis@usdoj.gov or call toll free 855-228-2151.

The Justice Department has taken similar steps involving a variety of state and local law enforcement agencies, both large and small, in jurisdictions throughout the United States using its authority under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under Attorney General Holder’s leadership, more investigations have resulted in comprehensive, court-overseen agreements to fundamentally change the law enforcement agency’s police practices than in any other five-year period in the department’s history.

Justice Department to investigate Ferguson Police Department

imagesRioting erupts in Ferguson, Missouri after police involved shooting of an unarmed teenBy TIMOTHY M. PHELPS

The Justice Department is expected to announce Thursday that it will open a broad civil rights investigation into the Ferguson, Mo., Police Department in the wake of the killing of an unarmed 18-year-old black man that touched off weeks of unrest.

The new civil rights investigation will be in addition to the federal criminal probe already underway as to whether Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, violated Michael Brown’s civil rights or used excessive force after a confrontation between the men Aug. 9.

The incident began when Wilson told Brown to stop walking in the street, and ended with Brown lying dead there for more than four hours. Some witnesses have said he was shot with his hands up as he tried to surrender. Wilson has reportedly said Brown was rushing at him.

Two autopsies have found that Brown had at least six bullet wounds, including one on the top of his head.

The killing touched off weeks of community unrest in Ferguson, a predominantly black suburb of St. Louis with a predominantly white police force.

Law enforcement officials confirmed the upcoming Justice Department announcement on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Ferguson officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The investigation of Ferguson’s police, first reported by the Washington Post, is not out of character for Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., who has aggressively investigated police departments around the country over the last five years.

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The Emotional Toll of Growing Up Black

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by Marian Wright Edelman

Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, a brilliant Black Ohio State University professor, recently opened the Educational Testing Service and Children’s Defense Fund co-sponsored symposium on Advancing Success for Black Men in College by sharing a question his 14-year-old son asked him: why did he get in trouble for speaking out of turn when he jumped in to answer his teacher’s question, but when his White friend did the same thing she was praised for being excited about learning? Dr. Strayhorn noted that many parents and grandparents and educators and policy experts are concerned about the same question: “There are lots of Black and Brown boys who are often penalized for committing the same exact act that non-Black and non-Brown, usually White kids, commit in school—and some students are praised for certain behaviors that other kids are penalized for. It sends a very mixed message, because my son is confused: ‘So what should I do? Not be excited about learning? What if you just can’t wait for the question? How do I signal to the teacher I’m not a rule-breaker?’” Dr. Strayhorn said these questions are something we’ve got to think about.

Dr. Strayhorn highlighted a number of other roadblocks we must all be sensitive to and overcome to get all our children on a path of healthy development, confidence, and success. The disparate treatment of Black children in the classroom from the earliest years, especially Black boys, often discourages and knocks many off the path to high school graduation and college. The cumulative and convergent toll of subtle but discouraging adult actions in schools and other child serving systems they come into contact with too often impedes the success of children of color, especially those who are poor, and burdens them with an emotional toll they don’t deserve.

I used to sing loudly with my children and Sesame Street’s Kermit the Frog “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” I can only imagine the number of Black children and adults who sing inside daily “It’s Not Easy Being Black.” I’m sure that Black youths seeing what happened to Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and others who lost their lives for walking while Black and those who are stopped and frisked and arrested and victimized by excessive police force carry these burdens inside every day. Even the youngest Black boys, ages 4 and 5, who are put out of school and even preschool for nonviolent disciplinary charges for which White children would never be suspended or expelled must be confused and feel this way too.

Dr. Strayhorn spelled out another way Black children are harmed: through disparate resources in the classroom, including textbooks, that hold Black, Brown, and poor students back. He described an experience he had while a professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville working with a Knoxville high school that was 97 percent Black. “I found that in this high school these students were learning from textbooks that were at least 10 years old… What exactly are the implications of learning from a textbook that’s 10 years old? Well, I’ll tell you this: that if you don’t catch up too quickly, especially in terms of science, there are certain technological revolutions that have happened at such a fast pace that they’re not even mentioned in the books from which they’ll learn—but will certainly be part of the test that they’ll take to demonstrate competency to go on to college. So it means a whole school of children and youths are set behind, not because they’re saying ‘Don’t take me into the future’ or ‘I don’t want to learn’ or ‘I don’t want to be successful,’ but in fact because they’re studying hard from textbooks that were set up to set them behind. That’s inequitable and that’s unfair.”

As he covered what does work in building a pathway to success, Dr. Strayhorn emphasized the need for positive interventions based on proven designs—because in his program evaluation experience he’s seen far too many well-intentioned efforts that lacked a measurable impact because good ideas weren’t well implemented. He said as an example mentoring programs are especially popular, but many don’t provide adequate training: “If I ask everyone at this table, ‘Will you be a mentor?,’ and you all say yes, and I say, ‘Now, go out and mentor,’ but never tell you what a mentor is supposed to do, I never tell you how important it is to get to know your mentee, I don’t build conditions and environments where you can engage your mentee in meaningful ways, I don’t give you resources to do the most important thing that a mentor has to do—and that is expose the protégé to experiences and opportunities that they might not experience otherwise… Mentoring, for me, is problematic because we pick it up very quickly and we move on with it because it sounds like it ought to work—but we don’t do the work it requires for it to be effective.”

Dr. Strayhorn also discussed how important it is to provide role models for young people who look like them and who are culturally sensitive—and how this is especially true for Black boys. He was clear that not all mentors and role models have to “match.” As a young Black graduate student his own most influential mentor was his older White doctoral advisor. However, having some successful role models who do look like you and who have had shared experiences can make a huge difference, and these role models are out there for Black boys trying to imagine their paths through college: “There are models for success… I’ve met tons of young Black men all across the country who are hard working, they are conscientious, they’re industrious, they have high aspirations, and every intention of achieving their dreams. They were raised by moms, dads, guardians, foster parents, sometimes they have met the juvenile justice system, but they are still committed to achieving their goals.”

Everybody in the classroom and teaching children today—when for the first time White students will no longer be the majority in our nation’s public schools—needs to be culturally sensitive and culturally trained. This is true for all child-serving institutions. We need to watch out for the subtle as well as the overt ways in which we treat non-White and White children and those who are poor differently. And we need much more diversity in children’s literature so that White, Black, Latino, Native American, Asian American, and all children can be exposed to the rich mosaic of America’s melting pot to help them see themselves and what they can be. As the new school year begins it’s crucial to hold up examples of success and inclusive education—and focus on steps that work to make that success possible for all children. And it is important to hold up examples where all children are excited about learning and feel empowered and encouraged to ask as many questions as they can.

Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.

Mrs. Edelman’s Child Watch Column also appears each week on The Huffington Post.

Our Nation Needs Community Policing

 

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By Dr. Lee P. Brown

As someone who has made law enforcement his professional career, I was saddened and bewildered as I witnessed events unfold in Ferguson, Missouri.

Local law enforcement’s initial response in that city was reminiscent of the 1960s when many police agencies responded to urban unrest, or the threat of it, by arming themselves with military equipment, not unlike that which our armed forces personnel uses when it engages an enemy in combat. Such tactics should not be used by American law enforcement agencies against citizens of our country.

Before making a judgment on whether or not the fatal shooting of young Michael Brown was warranted, all of us should wait on the outcome of the investigation by local and federal investigations as they attempt to determine what actually occurred in Ferguson.

I would, however, suggest that there is a philosophy of policing that would have prevented the events that have occurred in Ferguson. That philosophy is called Community Policing.

As Chief of Police in Houston, Texas, I implemented principles of the concept in a city in which the police and the citizens were at odds and were alienated from one another.

Community Policing is a philosophy of law enforcement that I pioneered while leading the force in Houston. The city’s police had a national reputation for brutality and racism. The Community Policing concept transformed the police department into one of the most respected police agencies in the nation.

In 1990, I was appointed Police Commissioner of New York City. A crack-cocaine epidemic had engulfed the city, and crime was at an all-time high. Community Policing was implemented as the cornerstone of then Mayor David Dinkins’ Safe Streets – Safe City program.

We utilized the principles of Community Policing as our style for the delivery of police services to the people of New York City. After one year, crime went down in every index category over the previous year. That was the first time that it had occurred in nearly 40 years.

Former President Bill Clinton understood the value of Community Policing when he incorporated it into his 1994 Crime Control Bill, and created the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).

I am convinced that if the Ferguson Police Department had adopted and implemented Community Policing as their dominant style of delivering police services to the citizens of Ferguson, the recent events would not have occurred.

Under Community Policing every officer must demonstrate that they support the community. Residents become allies and not targets. Officers are hired in the “spirit of service,” and not in the “spirit of adventure.” The police agency should also mirror the racial composition of the community under the concept.

Community policing demands that officers interact with people who live or work in neighborhoods that they patrol. Officers are trained to communicate with people, solve community problems and develop an appreciation of cultural and ethnic differences.

In fact, under Community Policing officers are not just evaluated on the number of arrests that they make. They are also assessed on their ability to solve problems, and the absence of crime in their assigned areas. Equally important, under Community Policing officers are rewarded for their problem solving abilities and the absence of crime.

Community Policing is also value driven. For example, every police agency should have as its core value the importance of human life. They must understand that deadly force is only to be used when their lives or the life of a citizen is at risk.

While serving as Police Commissioner of New York City, I was invited in 1991, prior to the end of apartheid, to travel to South African to help establish policies of policing for a free society. While there, I introduced Community Policing. Subsequently, the South Africans incorporated the concept of Community Policing into their new constitution.

I believe that Community Policing is the most effective and prudent method of policing that will work in our country. If properly adopted and implemented Community will prevent events such as those that occurred in Ferguson.

 

**The former chief of police in New York City, Atlanta and Houston, Dr. Lee Brown, has recently authored a book entitled: Policing in the 21st Century: Community Policing.
Contact details:
Dr. Lee Brown
Leepbrown1@aol.com
832-366-1584

NOBLE President's Response To Fatal Shooting of Mr. Michael Brown, Ferguson, Missouri

Alexandria, VA August 12, 2014 The nation as a whole has once again experienced the death of an African American male through a confrontation with police officers. The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) is concerned following the death of Eric Garner in New York that another teenage black male, Michael Brown, has been killed in Ferguson, Missouri. It is clear there is not an ongoing working relationship with the police department and segments of the community, that is evident from the ongoing displays of civil unrest; however, NOBLE too echoes the calls for peace. We ask the community to allow the investigation to run its course.

“I have communicated with the Ferguson, Missouri Police Chief, Tom Jackson, that his department must remain transparent. Everyone deserves for the investigation into the death of Michael Brown to remain fair and balanced. A proper investigation ensures in time, that the Ferguson Police Department and the community will be able to sit down and talk through its differences,” stated Dr. Cedric Alexander, NOBLE National President.

NOBLE will be paying close attention to any and all forthcoming information and offers its prayers to Mr. Brown’s family.
National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE)
Dwayne A. Crawford
Executive Director
Phone: (703) 658-1529

50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

NOBLE

Alexandria, VA August 7, 2014

This week, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This law was and is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. It enforced the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

Passage of the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act were hard fought victories for African Americans and the country as a whole. The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) celebrates and thanks the many thousands of men and women who persevered through racism, threats, and even death to secure the many freedoms we now enjoy, especially the right to VOTE.

“The country has made a lot of progress since 1965, but the fight for justice rages on,” stated Dr. Cedric L. Alexander, NOBLE National President. “It is more relevant today than ever to achieve our mission to ensure equity in the administration of justice in the provision of public service to all communities, and to serve as the conscience of law enforcement by being committed to justice by action.”

National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE)
Dwayne A. Crawford
Executive Director
Phone: (703) 658-1529

Statement Addressing The Death Of Eric Garner Following The Encounter With New York City Police Officers

Alexandria, VA Jul 23, 2014 “While we all have viewed the video involving Mr. Eric Garner’s encounter with New York City Police Department (NYPD) Police Officers on July 17, 2014, we as the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), are paying close attention to any and all forthcoming information and offer our prayers to Mr. Garner’s family, the NYPD, and EMS personnel impacted by this incident.”

It is important for me to express that we do not rush to judgment, but allow the New York City authorities to complete their investigation into the factors that led to the death of Mr. Garner. Any premature conclusions deprive Mr. Garner’s family closure and New York City public officials the opportunity to determine what transpired.

NOBLE will continue to monitor developments regarding this incident. I have been in recent communication with NYPD Commissioner William Bratton and he has ensured there will be a continued transparent and comprehensive examination of this case.

National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE)
Cedric L. Alexander, Psy.D.
National President
Phone: 214-300-8555