White Plains – Common Council Member and Democratic mayoral candidate Milagros Lecuona and police reform advocate Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr. today called for greater transparency and accountability from the current White Plains mayor and his administration. This comes after the New York Civil Liberties Union released a report calling out several New York police departments including White Plains’ for dodging the legal obligations to provide police statistics to the public.
The report, Taking Cover: How New York police departments resist transparency, concludes the White Plains Police Department took seven to 15 months to complete Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests regarding the use of force by police, stops and detentions, complaints about alleged misconduct, racial profiling and the use of surveillance. The law states they are required to provide an initial response within the required five-day period.
According to the report, “Under New York’s law, government agencies must respond to a request for public records within five business days. If a delay is needed, a reason must be given as well as a date by which the records will be released. Agencies must give written justification for refusing to produce requested records. When an agency denies a request — or delays for so long as to practically deny it — the requester can file an appeal, which the agency has 10 business days to resolve.”
“This is unacceptable. These are not confidential state secrets. People are asking for public records that the law states should be available. We cannot leave the effectiveness of our police department to guesswork. It undermines transparency and accountability which continues to be a major threat to running White Plains’ government with integrity,” commented Lecuona.
“In a best-case scenario, our police do not have the resources they need to comply with FOIL requests and this becomes an issue of poor record keeping and inadequate resources. In a worst-case scenario, facts are being hidden from the public because the police have something to hide. In order to establish trust within the community, White Plains leaders need to address the problem now. Unfortunately, my family knows too well the consequences of failed leadership and unaccountability,” explained Chamberlain.
Chamberlain Jr. is the son of 68-year-old Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. who was fatally shot on November 19, 2011, in his home in White Plains. Chamberlain Sr.’s suffered from a heart condition and COPD and wore a LifeAid medical alert necklace. When it was inadvertently triggered, police responded and demanded he open his front door. Despite his objections and several statements that he did not need help, the police broke down Chamberlain’s door, tasered him, and then shot him dead. However, the grand jury found no wrongdoing by the police.