westchester coalition for police reform meeting

Members of the Westchester Coalition For Police Reform met outside N.Y.C.’s City Hall in Downtown Manhattan Thursday. They were there to demand federal investigations in to possible police crimes in the county and overall reform of police departments in Westchester and nearby areas.

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“We come [sic] down here to Foley Square with family, friends, and loved ones of people that have been killed unjustly by law enforcement in Westchester conty,” said Damon Jones (pictured center), the New York representative of Blacks In Law Enforcement. “People’s lives have been lost because law enforcement violated policies and procedures of training. ”

“An as a national law enforcement organization, we say if a officer who is properly trained by a certified institution of law enforcement goes in the community and violates those policies, he is no less than a criminal himself.”

“In Westchester County, for those of you who do not know, it is one of the richest counties in New York State,” added Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., (pictured left of Jones) who lost his father in a controversial police shooting in White Plains in November 2011. “Police misconduct, brutality, and criminality is very prevalent there as it is in any of the boros in New York City.”

Noting that he has never been against the police, Chamberlain Jr. addd he is “anti-individuals who feel they can do whatever they want to whomever they want without consequences.” Unfortunatly, since many police shootings with overwhelming evidence upstate result in no indictments, “our only recourse is to come to the Department of Justice and try to get some type of accountability.”

“One thing is crystal clear: that you cannot rely upon a local District Attorney’s office to prosecute police for police misconduct,” added Mayo Bartlett (pictured right of Jones), Chamberlain Jr.’s attorney, suggesting a collusion between the area’s D.A. offices and local police departments in not convicting officers suspected of misconduct.

“If we belive ourselves to be the best country in the world, then I think we have to ask ourselves, Why do we incarcerate more of our citizens than any other country in the world? Why do we have more people incarcerated in the United States than China does? So we need police reform, we need more accountability, and we have to really revisit what it means to have police in your community.”

The group is calling for federal investigations in to the police shootings of Chamberlain Sr.; Danroy Henry, a Pace Uiversity student who cops killed in his car; and Samuel Cruz, killed in a New Rochelle apartment by officers responding to assist him with a psychiatric crisis.

They also demaded better oversight of police departments in Westchester and nationwide, improved training for officers in crisis situtions, and more dialogue between department and communities, particularly Black and Brown ones.

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