Dated: Wednesday February 03, 2021
As a body of men and women of color employed as criminal justice practitioners, the members and Board of Directors of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Inc. have, since their inception, consistently taken an active stance against racially discriminatory practices in law enforcement, and other instances of social injustice that bring both division and discredit to our chosen profession.
The results of numerous empirical studies, with the most recent published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes in April of last year, have proven, without any degree of doubt, that Black law enforcement officers are disproportionately disciplined, causing them to lose promotions, loss of pay, and become subjected to both continuing harassment and retaliation from supervisors and other agency managers. Thus, it is no surprise that Sgt. Cornelius Rodgers of the New London, CT Police Department found no alternative except to file a federal civil rights complaint against both his agency and the city.
It is to the greater benefit of the community – black, white, brown, yellow and red – that officers of color be provided equal and fair opportunities for promotion to supervisory, staff and administrative positions within the law enforcement hierarchy. When there are people who look like us, come from the same environments, have the same experiences, a much better understanding of the concerns and issues of the Black and Latino communities is derived. Thus, we stand in support of Sgt. Cornelius Rodgers in his federal complaint of disparate treatment and hostile work environment.
Yet we find quite often that when processes are in place to assist in ensuring equality and fairness, the established majority either neglects or refuses to comply with the standards that have been set. Consequently, we must now wonder about the attitude and perception that agency administrators, command and supervisory staff have not only towards the citizens of color whom they have allegedly sworn to “Protect and Serve,” but to the officers of color whom they employ. And according to Sgt. Rodgers’ complaint, there seems to be little doubt that the agency is plagued by a serious racially divisive atmosphere, one which top administrators of the agency have so far failed to address, even though apparent ample warnings of pending difficulties have been presented for more than two years.
One may only hope that the investigation now being conducted by Attorney Paula Anthony of the firm of Berchem Moses, PC will truly be conducted fairly, transparently, and without bias. And the response of agency administrators, command staff and supervisory personnel to the results of that investigation will define their leadership, or lack thereof. We will be watching.
The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Inc, a 501.(c).(3) non-profit, is a premier national organization representing the interests and concerns of African American, Latino and other criminal justice practitioners of color serving in law enforcement, corrections, and investigative agencies throughout the United States, and the communities in which they serve.
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