The recent release of the so-called Bad Cop List was an attempt at a good solution but poorly executed by the Westchester County District Attorneys Office.
It is imperative that Law Enforcement Officers, no matter what department or rank, be held to the highest standards in Westchester County.
As Law Enforcement Professionals, we must safeguard public trust to the best of our ability. Our actions on duty significantly impact public trust.
If our mission as Law Enforcement Professionals is to safeguard the lives and property of the people we serve, to reduce the incidence of fear and crime and enhance public safety, we all should be embarrassed and outraged if the alleged actions of any officer are proven true. In these cases, we should not defend or make excuses.
When it’s all said and done, we work for the people; the people pay us, and as trained professionals, we should act accordingly to the law. It is only fair to the taxpayer that they have the right of public concern if Law Enforcement Professionals violate that trust while doing the job they were sworn to do.
We do not agree with personal issues, domestic or DWIs, while off duty should be a factor or non-job-related incidences that accrued 15 to 20 years ago as criteria to be on the list.
The District Attorneys Office also failed to clearly explain what the criteria to make the Bad Cop list is. What is the standard that is used for judging the actions of officers or for making a decision that an officer should be on the list?
The fact that the Westchester County’s District Attorney’s head off Intelligence, Andrew Ludlum is on the list makes it problematic. Policing 101 is based on the intel that is gathered; the District Attorney’s integrity is questioned in this matter.
We believe it is well within the District Attorney’s rights and duties to compile a list of vetted civilian complaints, purgery, falsifying reports, refusing to testify against another officer, documented racial profiling and police brutality incidents. These violations are key to public trust and credibility to the officer and how a Law Enforcement Department carries out its mission to improve public safety.
Unfortunately, for a county that claims to be progressive, Law Enforcement accountability remains a systemic problem in Westchester County. In its forty-three municipalities, there is not one active Civilian Complaint Review Board.
If the District Attorney’s Office is incapable of proper oversight, can someone tell the people of Westchester, who is policing the police?
Even when Officers bravely step across the Blue Wall and are eyewitnesses to crimes and abuse of power, reported to the District Attorney’s office, the officers in question have not made the list.
A 2008 news opinion poll reported that 65 percent of the people polled saw police brutality as an issue in the communities in Westchester County. Westchester County officials have failed miserably to react, respond, and make the necessary policies and legislation to rectify these critical issues.
History has proven that in many cases, Law Enforcement Professionals are no different than the greater society. They sometimes bring negative attitudes and or stereotypes to the communities they serve that can adversely affect their decisions and the fairness of their enforcement actions.
As Law Enforcement Professionals, we also recognize the rights of officers through their local collective bargaining agreement and right of Law Enforcement Union Presidents to speak out on their defense. As public servants, when will we have the testicular fortitude to say when one of our comrades crossed the line or abuse the power they have been granted to them by the municipality and the state? When will the good ones speak out against the actions of the bad ones? Silence is consent!
The use of an objective public external review and input sources, such as a Civilian Complaint Review Board or a Bad Cop List are several tools that can be employed to help positively influence behavior patterns in a Law Enforcement Organization and build a better relationship with the communities that Law Enforcement claims to serve.
Law Enforcement Professionals, like government employees, are hired and paid for by the citizens of the community. They are given the exclusive right in our society to exercise physical and deadly force, if necessary, in requiring citizens to comply with the laws and their commands. Our system of government is based on checks and balances, each possessing the power to curtail the activities of the other. Our Law Enforcement departments should not be any different.
Ultimately, Law Enforcement Leadership is the primary key to Law Enforcement Officer accountability. It is largely the articulated principles embodied in the organizational culture that promote accepted behavioral norms. Law Enforcement leadership can play a crucial role in influencing officer behavior, by setting rigorous selection standards to recruit and develop more intelligent, trainable officers. Law Enforcement leadership must rigorously enforce policies that will result in Behavioral Modification amongst officers.
Blacks in Law Enforcement of America believe that Law Enforcement’s purpose is to protect and serve. Not to contain the poor, the economically disadvantaged, or to take advantage of those who cannot fight back or have a real voice in the matter at hand.