NAACP calls for widespread policing reforms

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Oranges and Maplewood Unit sent the following statement to the newspaper on June 9:

“For a fortnight citizens throughout our country have by their public actions voiced their concerns about policing in communities of color. It is the sincere hope of the Oranges and Maplewood Unit of the NAACP that such demonstrations have sustainability such that systemic change will occur in the appropriate arenas. Community policing must become a reality. In addition, our organization strongly supports that all police officers be required to wear and use body cams. We are proposing also that all patrol cars also be equipped with automatic operating cameras. Choke holds and questionable restraining tactics must be declared illegal and not used by local police officers.

“The murder of innocent American citizens at the hands of uniform police officers must come to an end. Police chiefs and mayors must implement implicit bias training for all armed officers. It is the NAACP’s optimistic hope that such training will allow officers to react to stressful situations in the appropriate manner. Our local police departments must develop or enforce a review of police officers who have multiple complaints filed against them. With a ‘complaint review process,’ police officers who need additional training can be accommodated and where appropriate retrained. If the additional training does not bring about significant improvement, the officer should be removed from the department. Local citizens need to know the name of their local county prosecutor — in Essex County, it is Theodore N. Stephens II — and be willing to establish contact with the prosecutor’s office in order to learn of civic involvement activities that impact proactive community relationships.

“Since the murder of George Floyd, police chiefs, mayors and other public and elected officials have condemned the actions of police officer Derek Chauvin. However, our organization has not witnessed any police union official make any public comments about the alleged inappropriate actions by the officer. In most cases of alleged police brutality, union officials demand that police officers are afforded due process and given the benefit of doubt. Some police unions have certified police contracts that specify how soon police supervisors can discuss with an officer their involvement when the discharge of their weapons has occurred. Such contractual stipulations give an officer sufficient time to develop their perspective of the incident. Unfortunately, the alleged victim’s due processes are impossible to address from the morgue. And police officers always have the get-out-of-jail card of saying ‘my life was in jeopardy.’

“Currently, our nation’s feelings toward people of color are contained in a crucible. For too many years African Americans, Latinx and Native Americans have been perceived as undesirable, despite the contributions these residents have made to the development and enrichment of America, both cultural and financial. It would appear that we now have a generation that is demanding an end to white privilege. The successful demise of white supremacy in America will allow our country to be the cornucopia that the original founders envisioned.

“Black Lives Matter banners are now being displayed at most demonstrations against police brutality. These banners are calling for an end to the war against individuals who are rich with melanin. These banners are proclaiming that African Americans have a right to engage in our democratic society without prejudice and as equal citizens. BLM banners are declaring that enslavement ended with the passing of the 13th Amendment. It is time for a new day so that all Americans, regardless of their ethnic origin, will to be able to enjoy the benefits of our great nation without fear or intimidation.”