The recent negative post of a Westchester County Correction Officer of Black Lives Matter is another example that Law Enforcement and elected officials unwillingness to recognize or respect the value and experience of black lives and black people. This does a serious disservice to the need of advancement of social justice issues that has exposed political rhetoric.
How can black lives not matter and the officer works with black officers on a daily basis? How can these officers look Black officers in the face and disrespect those black victims of police criminality? How do they know that these victims are not family members, friends or associates of black officers? We are Black before we are Blue and we are reminded of that on a daily basis when we have watched our own black officers shot, shot at or killed while doing a job, they were sworn to do and then made into the patsies of a tragedy.
Retired Westchester County Correction Officer, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., was called a “Nigger” and killed by White Plains Police. Not one ounce of support from those in the department, nor the Black COBA Union President Alonzo West. Are we only “Blue” when it benefits the masses of the institution?
If black lives don’t matter to this Correction Officer, then those black officers that were union officials, who fought for rights and benefits that this officer benefits from, now don’t matter. If black lives do not matter than their union president Alonzo West, who fights for them, his life does not matter to them either.
Law Enforcement unions like the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has even showed their insensitivity to the lives of Black People by endorsing Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump over the opposition of its Black membership.
The county jail is named after a black man, Norwood E. Jackson. Black lives do not matter, but you work in a building named after a black man (Norwood E. Jackson Correctional Facility Valhalla Campus). How ironic. I would not be surprised if many of them do not even know that.
Quick history lesson: Norwood E. Jackson was appointed commissioner to head Westchester’s correctional system in April 1987 after having served as warden 15 years. He was the first African-American to assume the leadership of a major criminal justice agency in the government of Westchester County. When he passed away in 1995, the county named its correctional center after him in a public ceremony on August 15, 1995. And now we have gone back in time and have NO BLACK COMMISSIONERS in Westchester County at all!
Black Officers and the Black community have faced racism and a Justice System in Westchester County that has devalued the lives of people of color and the have-nots. This should not be new to elected officials. It was clear that racism existed in law enforcement since the 1992 report to then-County Executive Andrew O’roarke.
The sad thing about it, our elected officials, local leaders and police management are in denial that any racial bias exists. Law Enforcement is a reflection of society. If racism and bias exist in society, why would we think it does not exist in our law enforcement departments? Keep in mind there are no black commissioners in the 43 municipalities of Westchester County Police, Correction or Probation (the city of Mount Vernon fired Terrance Raynor, the only commissioner in the county, when the new administration took over). Historically the position has been white male dominant for decades and now so is the black run city of Mount Vernon as well.
Black law enforcement have played the “Spook Who Sat By The Door” for many Black elected officials to expose the racial bias in many local departments and still they have failed to have the testicular fortitude to do anything to address what is now a national epidemic.
When have you seen an Elected Official or a Black Elected Official stand with a victim of questionable Police Criminality? When has a Black Elected Official used their “Bully Pulpit” to move any legislation on police oversight?
Black elected officials have been constant enablers of racism in our justice system because of their failure to hold those accountable or and failure to create any policies and legislation.
Even a black mayor like the city of Mount Vernon’s Mayor, Richard W. Thomas has refused to address the embedded racism in his police department. He has declined to discuss the racist Facebook post of his White MVPD Officer publicly, but was quick to suspend a Black FDMV Firefighter and make a public statement.
The Mount Vernon City Council has failed to hold Commissioners to the residency requirements and pass legislation with proper oversight of officers who violate policy.
It is the view of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America that proper residency requirements are 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 Westchester, especially the communities of color.
- Police Criminality, misconduct and excessive force.
- Effective community policing.
Even with President Obama’s 21 Policing recommendations, elected officials have failed to implement the 1st step accountability, transparency and legitimacy.
With racial incidents in law enforcement all over Westchester, Black Elected officials have been AWOL in being vocal for those communities that are affected.