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Dated: Wednesday April 14, 2021

The historical date of April 13, 2021 marked the long awaited vindication for Cariol Horne, a former Buffalo police officer who was unjustly terminated and had her pension eligibility stripped away from her. This action was subsequent to Horne stopping a fellow White officer from choking an already handcuffed Black man on November 1, 2006. It did not matter that the White officer overshadowed Horne in both physical stature and strength. It did not matter that Horne might suffer injury in the process, which she did when the White officer physically struck her in the mouth when she intervened. What mattered to Horne was her sworn oath of office to “serve and protect” the residents of her community, even if it meant protecting them from an officer who was abusing his police authority. What mattered to Horne was overcoming the force being used against a human being who stated, “I can’t breathe.” It is because of Horne taking deliberate actions to prevent the death of a human being, that Neal Mack is alive today.

So as Cariol Horne celebrates her well-deserved victory and starts to piece back together 15 years of her life that was stolen from her, she has an opportunity to reflect back. The reasons for Horne’s termination will never make sense or be rational. Saving the life of a citizen is something that should be praised and encouraged, and not result in retaliation and termination. Black residents oftentimes ask, “Why don’t Black officers stand up and speak out?” The majority of Black officers will not because they fear retaliation from their police agency. Cariol Horne is unlike the majority of Black officers. She has and continues to stand up and speak out against racial injustices and police brutality. Even after Horne was terminated, she continued to be a guardian of the people. In 2016, Horne reached out to Officer Nakia Jones, who faced direct retaliation from members of the Warrensville Heights, OH Police Department, after her Facebook video went viral. It was regarding the fatal shooting of an unarmed Black man, Alton Sterling, at the hands of a White Baton Rouge police officer. Horne did not want Jones to endure the same level of retaliation and hardship alone.

Also in 2016, Cariol Horne and her team started working on what would eventually become Cariol’s Law. This is a set of provisions that would: mandate officers to intervene when officers pose an imminent threat to citizens, hold officers accountable when they neglect to intervene, and offer protection for officers who do intervene. The provisions go even further to provide restorative justice for retaliation of whistleblowers. Cariol’s Law was enacted in Buffalo, NY in October 2020. So even while Horne was going through her own ordeal, she was still conducting herself in the capacity of a guardian on behalf of other officers and residents in her community. Horne’s objective is for Cariol’s Law to be enacted in all 50 states and becomes a federal law. If Cariol Horne was present or if Cariol’s Law was enacted in Minneapolis, MN on May 25, 2020, George Floyd would be alive today.

Cariol Horne’s vindication is a major milestone in correcting an unfathomable injustice, and now sets the foundation for transformative reform in the culture of policing. Its implications are even bigger than Cariol Horne because so many other officers, as well as citizens, will be victorious. A special thank you to the Honorable Dennis E. Ward who was instrumental in the restorative justice process for Cariol Horne. The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Inc. (NABLEO) salutes Cariol Horne for her courage, integrity, humanity, indomitable strength and perseverance to overcome all obstacles that were thrown in her path. Cariol Horne is a true trailblazer and she has NABLEO’s unequivocal support!

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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