Response to Recent Police and Civilian Killings
August 31, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry
Let us rehearse what we have written so far. I wrote that in the times of “urban unrest” in the aftermath of police brutalities and/or killings, the society reacts in four ways: more support for the police; more proposals and recommendations; a call for peace and calm; and, prayer vigils.
There is one more reaction by the leaders, particularly governments, corporations, banks, lending institutions, foundations, etc. Promises! Promises! And, more promises! There is almost always the promise of a study by a commission, committee, Blue Ribbon panel, or task force. “We will study the problem.” Valuable time, energy, and huge amounts of money, all kinds of resources, and experiences, including the smartest people, are brought to the task. Almost always, the recommendations are not implemented.
As I have stated, I, along with others, was asked by Former Governor David Patterson to work on the Police-on-Police Killings Task Force. Needless to say, we took our task seriously. We took time away from other important responsibilities, and worked diligently… But, I will let Governor Paterson express his gratitude and praise for our labor.* To my knowledge, nothing was done with our hard work. However, it should be pointed out that the Governor didn’t finish his term.
Occasionally, once in a while, a part of a Task Force might be implemented usually to quiet the “natives.” Additionally, there are substantive promises – more jobs, playgrounds, summer festivals (keep the “natives” singing and swinging), colorful parades (keep the “natives” dancing and prancing, skinning and grinning), more opportunities, better schools, better housing – anything or everything, but little or nothing is ever done. In fact, the very leaders, who are largely responsible for the oppressive and unjust conditions of the “natives,” are invited to join the festivities and oftentimes given awards, citations, and plaques, which announce to the world how great they are.
Things remain about the same until there is another “riot” or the “natives” become restless and threaten to tear up the city or “burn, baby, burn.” Or, there’s a less dramatic action that would simply threaten the comfort or inconvenience of the leaders and the populace, and then the promises repeat themselves in addition to the four other reactions already mentioned.
Truly, if most of the promises were implemented, it wouldn’t solve the problems. What is usually recommended addresses a piece of the problem. The problems will not go away until we think and/or act more comprehensively. I think we can all agree that the problems we face with the police are much larger than the police, and even the criminal justice system. As Chief Brown said, “The policemen can’t do it all.”
The police problem can’t be viewed in isolation. They are a part of the larger society. In some sense, it is unfair to ask the policemen to guard and protect the stores when those who own the stores are loaded with goods derived from greed, deception, and thievery. When there are widespread joblessness, poverty, and myriad pathologies and it is too much to ask policemen: “Keep us safe. Be counselors and doctors. Corral those who are desperately in need.”
I remember sitting in a conference with the police top brass. It was discussed how they would have to increase their presence in a certain area in the city where there was a decline of jobs and the summer months were approaching. What they made inarguably clear was that there will be an increase of crime at certain times, conditions, and places.
Nor can policemen pick up the pieces and put them together again when we are responsible for broken relationships. We should not expect, or is it too much to ask policemen to intercede in domestic disputes, rescue our trapped animals, deliver our babies, etc.? There is a responsibility that all of us should share.
*The letter: “Dear Rev. Dr. Daughtry: On behalf of all New Yorkers, I wish to thank you for your service to the State of New York. I look forward to carefully reviewing your findings contained in the final report of the Police-on-Police Shootings Task Force, and carrying out the proper next steps based upon your recommendations. Your hard work and comprehensive investigation will profoundly benefit the well-being of New York’s civilians and law enforcement community for years to come. Thank you again. Your contributions are greatly appreciated. Sincerely, David A. Patterson.”
I am sure he essentially wrote the same letter to the Task Force, which included Christopher Stone, Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of the Practice of Criminal Justice, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Zachary Carter, Partner, Dorsey & Whitney, LLP and former United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Thomas Belfiore, Chair, New York Municipal Police Training Council, Former Commissioner, Westchester Country Department of Public Safety; Ella M. Bully-Cummings, Former Chief of Police, Detroit Police Department; Michael J. Ferrell, Deputy Commissioner for Strategic Initiative, New York City Police Department; Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry, National Presiding Minister, The House of the Lord Churches; Georgia Gascon, Chief of Police, San Francisco Police Department; Arva Rice, President and CEO, New York Urban League; and, Lew Rice, Former Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Office.
… to be continued.