Police can do a lot more


To the editor:

(re: “CB8 committee is indeed fair,” Feb. 22)

The recent column by Community Board 8 chair Rosemary Ginty is much appreciated because it answers some of the questions that were left unanswered by the chair of the public safety committee in a January meeting on the manner of the arrest of Alfred Burns, and what followed in the aftermath last year.

However, many questions still remain, such as what is the status of the Civilian Complaint Review Board and internal review investigations; when are results allowed to be known; could there be discussions with the 50th Precinct about how New York Police Department officers are trained in arrest techniques, anger management, conflict de-escalation? That might be reassuring.

At a very basic level, community boards are not protectors of government entities. The police department is certainly made up of professionals. Chief Terence O’Toole at that meeting could have given a response to the review questions based on his experience in the NYPD, and Chair Mary Yamagata could have agreed to set up constructive dialogues between community members and the 50th around enforcement behaviors.

Instead, the lack of response resulted in a spiraling, unnecessarily heated exchange. This lack is not just on the part of the committee, but the full board seems disinterested in disputing comments made after the Burns arrest that made it appear that the police department is animated by a belief that some people in society are discardable. That’s not a belief to allow to fester, or to be cultivated.

Just the opposite.

We know that this country has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with 724 out of 100,000 people in prison. And some groups bear the brunt of that more than others. Something clearly is not working, and I’d contend it is in misplaced values, and what is pursued.

The opinion piece says that a mission of the committee is the welfare and improvement of our community. That is certainly a goal worthy to pursue.

Suzanne Corber

Suzanne Corber