In response to the recent article by the New York Post reporting a Westchester County Law Enforcement Body’s memo about the new New York City Chokehold bill. The memo is instructing Officers not to go to New York City because of the recently passed restrictions on chokeholds, or sitting, kneeling, standing on suspect’s backs.
The NY Post article did not state what the police department. The fact that the memo was even written should shock the conscious of lawmakers and community stakeholders. But Black Westchester has become aware that the memo (see below) is from the Affiliated Police Associations of Westchester after reading a Yonkers Newswire Facebook Post titled ‘YPD WANTS TO CHOKE ‘EM.’
In our opinion these law was not hastily or recklessly signed. The chokehold and other excessive force techniques , that are usually use in Black and Brown communities, have been front page news since Anthony Baez was killed from chokehold by a Police Officer in 1994.
Yonkers Police Commissioner John Mueller has also issued a statement Friday, barring Yonkers Police Department from pursuing criminals and gang members that run across the Yonkers border into New York City in response to the New York City Chokehold bill (see below).
Unfortunately the city of Yonkers has a long history of police brutality. The lack Civilian Complaint Review Boards in any of the major cities in Westchester is problematic. The fact of the matter is; police departments throughout Westchester has fallen short of National or International standards and training.
These memos are further examples of many that Law Enforcement Leadership are disconnected from the people they serve and are constant hypocrites to the Peelian Principles of Policing that many in Law Enforcement claim but are also victims of a American policing culture that is built on racism and practices created by White men only.
If you walk in many Black Communities today, you will see those police departments are far from Peel’s model. For the purpose of this response, we will use Peel’s Peelian Principles to continue the need conversation that even law enforcement has fallen away even from the basic principles that many police management of scholars claim as their foundation.
PRINCIPLE 1 “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.”
There has been a misconception that many in the black and poor communities do not want Police to stop crime and violence. This is an entirely false conclusion. What Black communities now see is a style of over-policing, and a warrior mindset in Police were the perceptions of Black people, especially that black male is a constant threat.
PRINCIPLE 2 “The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.”
This is clearly not the case in many black communities throughout the nation. The mindset of the many police officers and police management is that they don’t need the approval of the community. Many Black communities do not have a say in how their communities are policed. Even when Black elected officials represent districts, the influence on policy and procedures that affect the community they serve are minimal and fail to change the reality of the community when it comes to policing.
PRINCIPLE 3 “Police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to obtain and maintain the respect of the public.”
In many Black communities, cooperation with the Police is nonexistent. This is also the case when some departments have a high number of Black Officers. Many Black communities do not feel that Police do not have the actual observance of the law when their own violate policies procedure and training. Black communities never see Black Officers or what is referred to as “Good Officers” address the bad officers for the sake of the community they serve.
PRINCIPLE 4 “The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.”
Because of weak accountability of police officers abusing the use of force and deadly force policies has long been a problem in the Black and poor communities throughout the nation. Police management and elected officials have failed miserably to address the need to create more stringent legislation on violations of Use of Force and Deadly Force policies.
PRINCIPLE 5 “Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to the public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.”
Police always have opportunities to correct public opinion, but they fail when good cops stay silent amongst the bad ones. A good officer’s silence is confirmation of the “Us against them Them” culture and the “Blue Wall” that is mentioned nowhere in Peel’s nine principles of policing.
PRINCIPLE 6 “Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient.”
The unfortunate relationship with the Police and the black community is historical when it comes to the use of force, especially deadly force. In many cases, persuasion, advice, and warning are not used. The new warrior mindset fails to accommodate deescalating situations. Officers have been faster to shoot and ask questions later. Many studies have shown that “Racial Bias” conscious or unconscious plays a role in an officer decided to kill a subject, but yet, elected officials and police management have failed to address this issue critically.
PRINCIPLE 7 “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historical tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”
Every police academy has failed this principle. The Us against Them attitude in many of the police academies across the nation. Many officers do not live in the community that they work, so Police being members of the public is nonexistent. The current police culture has failed to recognize that they are servants of the people and paid by the public.
PRINCIPLE 8 “Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.”
Because of the failed accountability of Officers that have violated policies procedures and training and the complicit silence of good officers, it does give an appearance that officers usurp the powers of the judiciary.
PRINCIPLE 9 “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”
Principle 9 is essential because policing technics and philosophy have not stopped crime in violence in black communities across the nation. If we use #9 as a guide or a report card, then policing as it is today is insufficient and has failed miserably to the needs of black people to keep us safe and make us feel protected like other communities.
Is too much to ask to raise the bar on accountability on what Peel calls “Citizens in Uniform”? Raising the bar, especially in the Use of Force policies, will not only make us exceed the standard, but it will save innocent lives and rebuild integrity in our communities.
Is it time for Westchester County to pass its own ban on Chokeholds? It seems so. It’s also unfortunate that we have even to have this conversation again and again and again.