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Police must answer for crimes against minorities

Damon Jones, New York Representative of Blacks Law Enforcement of America, holds a copy of a review of force training at the Westchester Police Academy which was conducted in the fatal shooting of Mount Vernon Police Officer Christopher Ridley. Jones attended a press conference on Oct. 16, 2011 announcing a Federal lawsuit against the Town of Mount Pleasant, Pleasanville and several police officers connected in the shooting death of Pace University student D.J. Henry at the White Plains Federal Courthouse. ( Ricky Flores / The Journal News ) / Ricky Flores/Staff TJN
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Incidents of questionable police shootings and conduct are on the rise throughout the nation, particularly as it relates to people of color and poor communities. The recent shooting of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. a black man shot and killed by White Plains police responding to a medical alert at his apartment Nov. 19 is just a piece in a larger puzzle of deep-rooted isms in the institution of law enforcement in the United States. As Blacks in Law Enforcement, we all know too well the embedded stereotypes of people of color in the law enforcement institution. Many off-duty or plainclothes black officers have been shot, shot at, or killed by their white counterparts, by mistake; the same never happens in reverse. Our organization has been monitoring the issue of police criminality in communities of color across the United States. We have seen the civil rights of our mothers, sisters, fathers and brothers repeatedly violated and abused. How many more reports of police misconduct and criminality must we hear about? There is not a big city that is immune to this dreadful disease. Neither the outrage from the community, eyewitnesses reports, videos of incidents, or pictures of brutalized victims have made this madness stop. On a larger scale, our elected officials have been completely silent over crimes by law enforcement in communities of color. In some cases elected officials have refused to meet with the victims families. In our opinion, these elected officials have failed in their duty to fairly represent and address the concerns of all citizens in their community. When people lose trust in authority and those who are in charge of the authority, they lose faith in the process of the system of justice that has been their right through the Constitution of the United States. We support those officers who each day put on their uniforms, put their lives on the line, and do the jobs that they have sworn to do. As law enforcement professionals, we vehemently condemn and demand a critical and fair accounting of the few police officers who cross the line. Their actions give a false sense of security and breeds a new generation of law enforcement who believe it is OK to beat up, slam up, and set up and shoot the citizens they have sworn to serve and not face punishment. Police brutality and misconduct is an ongoing occurrence in the poor black, Latino and poor communities. BLEA considers this brutality and misconduct to be police criminality; any law enforcement officer who has the power to arrest, authority to use deadly force, and who has received comprehensive training, and who will then go into a community and abuse the powers they have from the state or federal government, is committing no less than a criminal act themselves. Police criminality is a crime and must be confronted, controlled and outlawed by all police departments throughout the United States. How long must we wait for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice to take a proactive stance against police criminality? How many more children must die like Trayvon Martin of Florida, who was unarmed, shot and killed while coming home from the store with a bag of Skittles? How many more children should be brutalized in the communities and urban cities of color before the U.S. government addresses the issue of proper oversight and accountability of law enforcement? Are the lives of black and Latino men, women and children not important enough to the United States government to fully investigate this epidemic? Is our president more afraid of the backlash of police unions instead of creating the atmosphere of proper dialogue on local, state and government levels to create solutions of police criminality? As an organization, we have sat with politicians, church leaders, so-called community leaders and even representatives of the Department of Justice to no avail and little change. We are committed to work with any person, or organization, who believes accountability, transparency and oversight of law enforcement will serve all of society