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Real Dialogue Is Needed To Discuss Racism In Westchester’s Police Departments

The recent back to back resignations of Pelham Manor Police Chiefs after a racist email investigation within the department brings the question that many in the Black community and some law enforcement officials have asked for decades; does racism exist in law enforcement?

According to reports, the head of the FBI has denied any epidemic of racism among American law enforcement, but admits to cynicism and unconscious bias by the nation’s cops.

FBI Director James Comey made his statements at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, while attending a discussion about “the relationship between law enforcement and the diverse communities we serve.”

Singling out the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York —Comey said the rift between minority communities and officers of the law cannot be ignored any longer.

“We can drive around these problems,” said Comey. “Or we can choose to have an open and honest discussion about what our relationship is today.”

In an article by Black Westchester Magazine, New Rochelle Police Chief claimed that racism didn’t exist after questions from community stakeholders when new reports surfaced that their Police Commissioner dismissed a witness claims New Rochelle Police Officers was out of line when a video went viral of them with weapons drawn on unarmed Black youth.

Here in Westchester County, one of the richest and somewhat segregated counties in America. Our elected officials and police management have yet to admit to what FBI Director Comey has openly stated.

There have been numerous police and community relations forums in White Plains, Greenburgh, Yonkers and Mt. Vernon and not one Police Commissioner or Chief would admit that racism exist in their department.

In Westchester, many law enforcement officers are related by blood or marriage throughout the 43 municipalities and county departments. Many of these departments are predominantly white and in the small departments all white.

If they were told that all Blacks are criminals,  Black mothers are lazy and all immigrants are illegal, you can bet  when these officers that have interactions with people of color, there is a high probability that they are going to feel this way about them.

“Upbringing is the largest cause of racism and bias”

With year after year of questionable police actions against residents of color in Westchester, a District Attorney’s office that labels the use of racial epithets by Police Officers against a senior citizen as “a tactic”. The communities of color in Westchester are coming to the conclusion that our Police Departments are in fact racist.

With the many past incidents here in Westchester, not one elected official or police official have publicly denounce these racist actions and expressed  the push for any no tolerance progressive departmental or city legislation. These same Westchester elected officials have politically tap danced around the need for a Civilian Complaint Review Board in their districts.

As a national organization of Law Enforcement Professional we demand a full investigation of Pelham Manor Email scandal and a full disclosure of all recipients of the racial emails in question.

It is imperative of the Mayor and City Council of Pelham Manor to be transparent in its investigation to preserve the little trust that the Pelham Manor Community and the greater Westchester Community have in their police department at this time.

As a national organization of Black Law Enforcement Professionals, we all know to well of the decades of our struggle as Black men and women in this institution of law enforcement. To this end, we are formally requesting all other fraternal law enforcement organizations to denounce the actions of officers that have crossed the line and have shown bias attitudes to anyone’s race, religion or sexual preference. There should be no tolerance of these types of attitudes or actions in a profession that many claim is honorable.

Organizations like the Westchester Chiefs of Police Association and the Fraternal Order of Police have been conveniently silent on issues of race, oversight and police and community relations.

Whether it’s here in Westchester, the state or nationally, we can no longer claim we protect and serve every resident equally when we fail to correct the systematic institutional problems that deals around race in a career that we all hold dear to our heart.

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About Damon K. Jones (212 Articles)
Damon K. Jones is an Activist, Author, and Publisher of Black Westchester Magazine, a Black-owned and operated newspaper based in Westchester County, New York. Mr. Jones is a Holistic Health Practitioner, First Aid in Mental Health Practioner, Diet, and Nutrition Advisor, and Vegan, Vegetarian Nutrition Life Coach. Mr. Jones is a 31 year Law Enforcement Practioner, New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America. Mr. Jones has been a guest commentator on New York radio stations WBLS (107.5 FM), WLIB (1190 am), WRKS (98.7 FM), WBAI (99.5 FM), and Westchester's WVOX (1460 am). Mr. Jones has appeared on local television broadcasts, including Westchester News 12 “News Makers” and Public Television “Winbrook Pride. You can now hear Damon every Wednesday at 830 AM on WFAS 1230 AM, Morning with Bob Marone Show.
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