Dated: Thursday June 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. (NABLEO) 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.
With an apparent history of blatant discriminatory acts towards officers of color in their own agency, the New York State Police have created a situation of both community outrage and agency dishevelment. Cap this with the fact that the percentage of African American troopers in the ranks continues to fall, with less than four percent (4%) being represented amongst the agency’s nearly five thousand members. It is also noteworthy that in the more than one century since its establishment, only one person of color has ever been chosen to lead the agency, particularly in a state whose overall African American population is more than twenty percent (20%). Thus, with continuous complaints being made regarding disparate and discriminatory treatment towards African American troopers that appear to deliberately go unpunished, one must surely be concerned, as agency administrators, command and supervisory staff seem to have little or no positive attitudes or perceptions of the officers of color whom they employ.
This lack of diversity and perceptual imagery can only be viewed as active, systemic racism and deliberate indifference, and appears to be a problem that has been nurtured by a total and complete lack of administrative action, a continuing failure to adequately address issues specific to Black members of the agency, and has resulted in rampant episodes of racism throughout the agency, with these attitudes having festered both individually and collectively for several years. Further, what appears to be obvious administrative indifference to resolving an identified racially biased atmosphere would seem to indicate that any expressed initiatives towards stated commitments to agency diversity may be nothing more than “public speak” and have little or no true substance or value.
True attempts at diversity can only be made when there is a strong connectivity with the community and the transparency of the recruiting campaign which directs the flow of applicants, not the mere notice that positions are open or available. It is the concerted effort to ensure that all possible stakeholders in the community are aware of the agency’s need for expansion and of the method and procedure for engaging in the process that focuses the attention of those who are sought for these positions.
It requires “thinking outside of the box” in the conduct of the recruiting campaign, needing much more than mere visits to colleges and career fairs. It requires both structured communication with, and cooperation from, community leaders, faith-based groups, social and fraternal organizations, and the business community, as all are stakeholders in the efforts to keep the community safe. And it requires the publication and distribution of information in locations previously not considered but no less part and parcel of the targeted community, as it is the access to information that spearheads its use.
And these efforts must be shown at both the top and bottom of the agency. When an agency’s command personnel do not adequately reflect the tone and nature of the community it serves, it provides strong indications and perceptions of an unwillingness to address community needs and concerns, racially biased hiring procedures, and a complete lack of connectedness with the community being served, thus often leading to formal complaints regarding agency practices. Thus, we strongly recommend and support consideration for leadership of those officers of color who have served at the upper levels of the agency, who have an established commitment to progressive policing, diversity and inclusion in the ranks, and strong community support.
We urge the New York State Police to redouble their efforts in the recruitment of persons of color. We recommend a full, transparent and complete review of the methodologies used by the agency in their hiring practices, as well as their retention, promotion and disciplinary processes, each of which has both a direct and dynamic impact on the service of African American and Latino officers. There must be a more concerted effort to engage the community in their programs, as the very essence of any community policing initiative is the community, without which those efforts will undoubtedly fail.
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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