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April 24, 2008 Press Statement During the Spring 2008 Conference Session

Dated: Friday May 09, 2008

My name is Charles Wilson, and I am the National Chairman of an organization that represents the issues and concerns of more than 15,000 African American and Latino law men and women serving in the ranks of criminal justice professionals throughout the United States. With me today are members of our National Executive Committee, and our locally-based affiliate chapters, the Guardian Civic League and Cops & Citizens for Justice.

We stand today united to speak out about the rampant youth violence, racist and derogatory acts and treatment, and the ill-conceived enforcement programs that have a disparate effect on members of communities of color, and particularly the treatment of law enforcement officers of color in their role as protectors and guardians of our communities.

We must remind all members of the law enforcement profession that the Thin Blue Line is meant to be a bastion of hope and safety to all communities, and not a safety zone for those who would knowingly tarnish the badge they wear. Those who stand up for true justice in a system that ostracizes them for their honesty, denies professional advancement, encourages ridicule and unfair disciplinary treatment must, and will be supported, both by our local organizations and the strength and might of the national Organization it self.

From the posting of racist stickers and posters in police locker rooms in Philadelphia; to on-duty, in uniform posings as Ku Klux Klan members in Sandusky, OH; to the hanging of nooses at or near the patrol units and lockers of black officers in CT and NY, a heightened level of racial and cultural bias and indifference has ingratiated law enforcement agencies across the nation. We view this as both a symptom of continuing deeply rooted practices existing in those agencies, and further confirmation that, even while the profession of law enforcement has indeed made strong advances, the institution of policing is inherently biased against people of color, the poor and low-income. We strongly recommend that all law enforcement agencies use every available resource to root out those who support these racist tactics, and that they both increase and enhance their training regimens in issues that direct themselves to better understanding of the ethnic and cultural diversities of their department and community. This training must extend beyond the closed environment of the police academy, as it is only through constant reinforcement of proper training concepts that the root cause of these incidents will be erased.

The mindset of Dont Snitch must be eradicated from our profession. It is contrary to the ethical and professional precepts of our chosen profession. Its by products are community distrust, which has both an indirect and long-lasting impact on officer safety, placing both black and white officers at risk and peril.

Equally so should be your support for those communities of color that now face the spectre of the new brand of racial profiling. Stop and Frisk and immigration enforcement by local law enforcement not only deter the true focus of law enforcement but have the added, and more alarming impact of creating community distrust in those who are sworn to protect them, present greater opportunities for risks to police officers, and have an immediate and direct impact on the quality of life in all communities.

Proactive community education programs such as What To Do When Stopped by the Police have proven to be of immense value in decreasing adverse interactions between police and their community partners. The very concept of Community Policing, practiced by all, dictates that COMMUNITY COMES FIRST!! These programs, as well, provide a positive image of members of our profession and serve to create a more transparent view of those processes that affect our daily interactions with the community.

The use of firearms, other weapons and violence in general as a means of conflict resolution amongst the youth of our community has evolved to epidemic proportions, becoming the number one cause of death for young black males between the ages of 15 to 24 years old, with increasingly alarming statistics showing constantly rising crime among youth ages 9 to 16 years old. Our youth must be made to realize that a bullet does not end an argument, it only begins one. We must strengthen our educational systems to allow them recognize the value of knowledge that ensures their future, exploit and expand community-based programs that help them to become true assets to our community, rather than the criminal justice systems newest set of statistics.

Partnerships with the corporate community to participate in programs which develop greater levels of community outreach and enhance the educational capabilities of our youth must now be taken into consideration, and more fully integrated into community policing activities. More and better technology equipment in our schools, community centers and in the hands of low-income families will provide a more lasting impact on these activities than filling the nations jails with more black and brown bodies.

The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, its nearly 30 affiliate chapters, and more than 15,000 individual men and women of color in uniform stand both ready and prepared to offer assistance and training in the formulation of policies, procedures, and programs which better educate law enforcement and the communities we serve.

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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