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“I’m Serious About Solutions” – MVPD Det. David Clarke Speaks Candidly About Police Community Relations

Mount Vernon Police Detective David Clarke spoke about the continued efforts to help build better police and community relations at town hall meeting at Greater Centennial [Black Westchester]

[Editorial Note: Detective David Clarke broke his silence on the recent killings nationwide and lack of education in Law Enforcement and the Community, Tuesday morning on his Facebook page. BW felt his powerful and timely words needed to be seen by all and shared it in our editorial section.]

13600301_10209745290608007_6839478506416806971_nI’M ABOUT SOLUTIONS
So I’ve been silent for too long and I believe it’s time I speak on the issue involving the Community and police. I am forewarning that I will be candid as a black man, father, son, husband and law enforcement officer. My intent with any and everything I will bring forward is to EDUCATE because there is a LACK of EDUCATION in Law Enforcement and the Community.

The tragedies that are happening across America with police shootings and the incidents with the police officers being shot is totally unacceptable on BOTH ends. We as law enforcement have to be empathetic to the African-American community when these incidents occur because of how frequent they occur and the pattern that’s formulating. As a community we cannot condone the killing of police officers as justification for police shootings either. But what we have to look at is WHY these things are happening and becoming a NORM only in the African-American communities.

My counterparts in law enforcement may not agree, especially if they are not African-American, because they haven’t experienced people of their race being killed by police officers. Take for example this modern war on HEROIN that is taking place all across America right now…

It has become one of the biggest primary focus in law enforcement and WHY is that the case? Because now HEROIN has knocked on their doorsteps in prestigious towns, villages and cities. Growing up I saw numerous heroin addicts that were African-American and the problem was not tackled at all in our communities. But now that it has touched the doorsteps of another race it has become a problem. I bring this up because police shootings of African-Americans is also an issue but we don’t have SOLUTIONS as to why they are so prevalent? How come we aren’t exhausting the same resources to end police shootings in African-American communities as we are with heroin?

4e6227a6bcb33e523e3b5bd7cd72983dWhy is it that black officers, Latino officers and officers of other races don’t kill at the numbers that white officers do? As an officer for 12 years and a detective for over 8 years, I believe there are a few key factors that contribute to this enigma. One is FEAR and although officers appear to have the bravado and seem like they have things under control FEAR drives them to react a certain way when dealing with the African-American community. I say this because I’ve been involved in numerous encounters and have watched the different interactions officers have with different races and it seems like in most instances it’s always a “0-100 mentality” when dealing with minorities. I’ve seen a difference in the patience taken by officers when dealing with Caucasian suspects, victims and complainants. And NOT ALL Caucasian officers are rude or disrespectful to minorities but in my 12 year career I’ve seen a lot of calls and situations where people are disrespected and I have had to intervene and voice my opinion.

I’m not condoning criminality EITHER because there is a need for police in society, to protect and serve the people. But the community has to be held ACCOUNTABLE just as much as the officers that service the municipalities. Turning a blind eye to crime in the African-American communities seems to be the norm and I know that this plays a part in why we have such a problem as well with law enforcement. We are portraying ourselves in the African-American communities as people who ACCEPT crime and violence and then unfortunately we are stereotyped as if this is the life we want for ourselves. African-Americans want crime ridden blocks just like any other neighborhood and it starts with law enforcement and the community coming together and building as a unit. INSENSITIVITY is the other issue I see in law enforcement towards minorities in their communities.

Sometimes as an officer it’s hard to listen to and deal with hearing coworkers talk about situations that are devastating in my community as if the people in my town deserve it or in other places. No one in any Community wants their town to be crime infested, poverty-stricken and without jobs. It’s easy to judge when you don’t care about a Community and don’t have a vested interest in the city you work for. Since my first day on the job my focus has always been giving back and trying to make my town a better town. The sad part is I’ve been viewed as a “hug a thug” officer or “too friendly” with my Community.

It’s ironic because in other municipalities you have to be from the community to be an officer there and in those towns officers don’t get those same stereotypes as an African-American officer. Which brings me to the most important part which is EDUCATION. Law enforcement needs to be educated on dealing with minority communities more effectively and communities need to be educated more on how to deal with the police in minority communities. But the difficult thing here is that law enforcement has to recognize that there is a PROBLEM and they have to ACCEPT that there is a disparity in the way minority communities are treated and they have to be WILLING to be ENGAGED in these communities.

On the flip side the minority communities have to also be ENGAGED to work with the law enforcement in their communities and be able to hash out issues and problems that arise in an amicable manner. Both entities have to be EDUCATED together in order for things to work and for things to get better. Also, law enforcement has to be willing to LEARN from other CULTURES and not off of statistics and crime stats when it comes to minorities. Get out the car, step out of your office and move from behind the desk and get out into these minority communities and ENGAGE the people the same way that you do in your home towns. It does not kill anyone to speak and say “Hello… how are you…”; and this goes for both law enforcement and the community. I make it my business everyday while working to greet and speak to people from the community everyday.

It’s one of the best feelings in the world to wave, speak and interact with people everyday keeping them safe at the same time. The days of us against them has to come to an end in order for things to get better and I truly believe that. I am willing and committed to my community and police department so much that I’m willing to train the officers in my department who’ve never dealt with minorities on the level that they have to now. It is of the UTMOST IMPORTANCE to me because I am a product of my environment and I would like to see my colleagues develop better relationships with the community I come from. Also, I want to EDUCATE my Community on how to deal with law enforcement when they have police contact to ensure their safety. I know the realities of being a black man and pulled over because everyday when I take off the uniform I am subjected to the same things that most African-Americans go through when encountered by police because I look and dress like people from a minority community.

hqdefaultI’ve even been pulled over while in my full capacity as a police office with another minority officer looking for a homicide suspect and told that the police car we were driving could have been stolen and we could have gotten our badges, vests and raid jackets online. The sad part was I was protecting and serving, doing my job and still had guns drawn on me but these are the things society and communities don’t know that happen to African-American officers. So it is IMPERATIVE that I educate the people in my Community. RACE does not matter because having a safe encounter with a police officer is BENEFICIAL to the civilian as well as the officer because both people walk away safely which is the ultimate goal for both parties. My GOAL here is to incite people to be HONEST with themselves in LAW ENFORCEMENT and within the MINORITY COMMUNITIES and to encourage both parties come together to work out our differences because we have to CO-EXIST.

I am COMMITTED to making my city, police department and community better by EDUCATING them on partnering together as ONE because it’s TIME for OPEN and HONEST DIALOGUE between law enforcement and the minority communities. We don’t have to AGREE on everything and we don’t have to DISAGREE on everything either because the GOAL is COHESIVENESS between the community and law enforcement. These statements that I have made today are not to OFFEND anyone at all, they are intended to OPEN your hearts, eyes and minds. Don’t be SUBJECTIVE be PROACTIVE in tackling this problem we have going on right now in society. Also, I DO NOT CONDONE VIOLENCE in any way shape or form to LAW ENFORCEMENT because we have a tough job and ULTIMATELY the intent is to do a good job and take care of the communities we serve. I pray for the victims of violence and the lives lost in law enforcement and HOPE for better days ahead. God bless you all and thanks for listening to me. I hope that you will join me in some way shape or form to make the relationship with law enforcement and the community better.

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Black Westchester - News With The Black Point Of View is an online news magazine for people of color for Westchester and the Tri- State area of New York at every economic level. Our mission is to promote the concept of “community” through media.
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