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Dated: Saturday May 30, 2009

First, and foremost, the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Inc wishes to extend its warm and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Police Officer Omar Edwards, a two-year member of the New York City Police Department, who was tragically shot by members of his own agency on Thursday, May 28, 2009. While no amount of good will and best wishes can mitigate the hurt and remorse that you must now bear, we hope you will take solace in the knowledge and belief that, as an organization In the community&FOR THE COMMUNITY!, we are here should you need us.

While there is no doubt that this incident will be subjected to intense scrutiny, both within and without the police department, there must also be no doubt that these incidents appear to be endemic in their specifically devastating impact on law enforcement officers of color. Whether it be from reckless and careless mistakes of identity, from inattention to proper procedure and protocols, or the determined, and continued stereotyping of all men of color as perpetrators, it is vividly clear that officers of color who appear armed and out-of-uniform remain at serious risk.

Without the concerted efforts of all law enforcement agencies, regardless of their size or jurisdiction, towards influencing the mindsets of all members of our service, both white and black, in order to bring about the systemic changes needed to move away from a selection and training system that fails to gauge the forms of emotional and intellectual intelligence which is more relevant to the skills and behaviors needed to perform our tasks as law enforcement officers, these incidents will continue exponentially.

We do not urge a rush to judgment in this issue, as to do so will only exacerbate the ills of a system obviously impaired. We must not, however, fail to recognize and seriously consider what appears to be an alarming, and continuously growing pattern of officers of color being considered first as a criminal, then as a possible comrade in arms.

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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