Westchester Law Enforcement Groups Say Police Need Oversight

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Damon Jones, at podium, is joined by active and retired law enforcement officers to demand a civilian review board be formed by Westchester County. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Damon Jones and other active and retired law enforcement officers are calling on Westchester County to create a civilian complaint review board that could review local police investigations of incidents like the Kenneth Chamberlain shooting.

Jones, head of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America's Westchester Chapter, led a news conference Monday in front of the Westchester County Courthouse, which Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. and his family lawyers also attended.

"We're standing here calling for the County Exective [Robert Astorino] to put together a civilian oversight committee, similar to the human rights committee that he already has," Jones said. 

In response, Donna Greene, deputy communications director for Westchester County, said:

"The county is always open to ideas that appropriately address the concerns of residents. However, until there is an actual proposal to react to, any comment on its merits would be premature."

Jones also spoke out for such a committee Saturday at an NAACP rally at the Thomas Slater Center. Both news conferences were in response to a grand jury’s decision not to indict the White Plains police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Kenneth Chamberlain on Nov. 19, 2011. Chamberlain, 68, was shot by a police officer after police responded to a medical alert that he accidentally triggered. During the hour-long standoff at his apartment, Chamberlain refused to open his door to allow police to verify his condition. Police said he was shot when he lunged at them with a knife when they entered the apartment.

"If Barack Obama can put himself in Trayvon Martin's family position and feel there pain, where is our elected officials feeling our pain," Jones said.

Blacks in Law Enforcement of America will create a petition to support such legislation on the county level, Jones said. It has already started a petition to support legislation in the state Senate to create an inspector general’s position to 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.

The organizations attending Monday’s news conference included: 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.

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Comments (11)

taxed:

How many more Police Cover-ups will Westchester County be responsible for in the near future?
How many more innocent victims will be killed by Police and then Covered up by the Police and DA ? When will Westchester County stand up and start doing the right thing in the name of justice and fair play? How many more innocent black men will be gunned down by Police?

These Black Police Officers are 110% right and thats a fact but the worse part about it is that noone does anything to address these on-going Police shooting here in Westchester? Someone should be held accountable. Thats another problem we have here in Westchester County, No Accountability or integrity within our County government. Too many Political favors being done.

taxed:

We need changes that protect fellow officers who come forward with information of corruption
or any form of misconduct within his/her department and rewards should be offered, including
complete protection from retaliation or job loss. Its time we break the blue wall of silence and
allow officers to come forward without fear of being labeled a rat in his own Dept. Samething within the District Attorney's office and County Attorneys office and fire dept. We need changes in the
interests of justice.

The TRUTH:

Majura,and taxed would you feel better that your children were killed by your own color? The largest beneficiary of the police are blacks.

taxed:

Your a complete moron.

Francis T McVetty:

It seems that some BLACK police groups are not acting very BLUE. It is always about race with them! I just wonder how they enforce the law? Do they apply THEIR prejudices to the enforcement of the law? When they start acting as police officers and drop their color prejudices, things would get a lot better.
I have never seen this country so mired in color problems. It is NOT always a racial problem It is a racial problem if some want it that way. Look at Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. It seems that everything is a racial, problem with them. I can also apply this to Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, and 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, to name two. People that stir up hatred are not doing the situation any good.

taxed:

Not acting very BLUE ? Don't you mean that maybe they are just sick and tired of the Police killings of innocent people and the Police cover ups by Westchester County?

Elmer10511:

I don't see an epidemic of these incidents- just a few ( and yes, even a few is too many) that have become wildy publicized. I son't think any cop you were to talk to would tell you he would rather use deadly force than some other type of less-lethal solution. The nature of that business requires split second decisions to made- and then each millisecond is dissected by the media, various groups (including victims families) and justice system for months and years afterwards. I don't believe we need "better and more effective " deadly force standards- they are pretty well spelled out as they are.

majura:

I agree with them. I moved to Westchester from Canada 12 years ago and thought that it would be a great place to raise my family, but with all these killings of black unarmed people at the hands of law enforcement here makes me feel somewhat helpless. A young Pace University man shot by police a few years ago got zero justice and his murderer was awarded an award right after he killed the unarmed youth; the Chamberlain case, the case in Rockland where a mentally unstable man was also shot and nothing will be done. There are other cases like this, and in all cases the investigation is overseen by friends, relatives and friends of relatives of the officers, and everything is swept under the table and the officers are always cleared. It is extremely scary raising black children, especially boys in Westchester. When most parents are teaching their kids how to throw a baseball, we are teaching our children how to act when stopped by a police office. Even though my kids are at one of the top private schools in Westchester and maybe able to articulate very well, I still fear for them, they are visibly black.

Francis T McVetty:

majura, It seems you know nothing about the Pace shooting. The grand jury does not agree with you. You also write this "When most parents are teaching their kids how to throw a baseball, we are teaching our children how to act when stopped by a police officer." You may want to watch this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2wOxnAiIVs. This applies to ALL races, not just Black people.
As in the Pace incident, it is important to teach your children NOT to drink, and certainly NOT drive a vehicle if they have. As with any human being, if you give someone grief then don't expect a break. Don't turn a simple incident into a tragedy.

majura:

Francis, the truth remains that our kids and men are definitely looked at more differently than other others. Maybe there needs to be sensitivity classes taught, and when someone is making that split second decision, they will not kill an unarmed man. BTW who is on the grand jury, you spoke about.

People are so biased. So what if the kids were out having a great time? There was no reason that this young boy's body should have been riddled with bullets and had to die. I pray that this officer's conscience will erode with the guilt he feels on a daily basis. It saddens me that people still treat people the way they do in 2012. Whatever happened to humanity? Maybe I am too passionate about this subject right now and may just be letting my heart out, but I do hope that someday the world will change and we will see everyone, no matter what their skin color as equals. Hopefully our children are better at this than we are.

taxed:

We have to agree with all of the black law enforcement officers because they are correct.
Its time to have a special committee formed of non government employees who are unbiased.

We also need westchester County to raise the bar up higher by setting new standards for everyone
in a position of trust. We must hold everyone accountable for their actions, and we need better
and more effective standards for hiring police offers, better and more effective ways to screen all Police applicants before they are hired. We need better metholds on training in life and death situations, especially when dealing with the mentally ill and elderly. We need better and more effective standards in the use of deadly force, and especially when an officer maybe able to save life enstead of taking it because they are peace officers and must be better trained and better educated in constitutional law and senitivity training.