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.