WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Active and retired police officers will call for further oversight of local police departments through legislation on the county and state levels at a news conference Monday in White Plains, said Damon Jones, head of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America’s Westchester Chapter.
The news conference, to be held at 11 a.m. in front of the Westchester County Courthouse, is in response to a grand jury’s decision not to indict the White Plains police officers involved in the Nov. 19, 2011, death of Kenneth Chamberlain.
“We’re gathering on Monday to say that there needs to be some type of external review of not only the White Plains Police Department, but of all 43 municipalities — and, really, New York State, because these types of incidents are going on all across the country,” Jones said.
Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, along with other law enforcement representatives, will “demand” that the county draft legislation to create a civilian complaint review board, similar to the county’s Human Rights Division, Jones said.
Press representatives for the Westchester Board of Legislators said the board has no comment at this time, but may respond after Monday’s news conference.
Jones’s organization has started a petition to support legislation in the state Senate to create an inspector general’s position to oversee the NYPD. However, state Sen. Kevin Parker — who sponsored the bills, S6407A and S6695 — said he would look into expanding the position to oversee police departments statewide, Jones said. Whoever is appointed to this position would act as a “special state-level prosecutor to handle investigations and, if necessary, prosecute these cases,” according to the petition.
Lawyers for the Chamberlain family have asked for a criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which has said it will review the evidence in the case.
“We will cooperate fully with any Justice Department inquiry into the Chamberlain incident,” said Public Safety Commissioner David Chong, of the White Plains Police Department.
Other organizations attending Monday’s news conference will be: Black Law Enforcement Alliance, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, National Black Police Association, National Latino Officers Association, the Grand Council of Guardians, the Network for Police Accountability and Chamberlain family friends and supporters.