At Wit's End: Keep Kelly but NYPD needs more accountability and communication

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There’s an old saying to “not change horses or police commissioners midstream”.
So perhaps NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly should finish out with the Bloomberg Administration and become more accountable to the people he serves.

The NYPD has been on a horrible streak with community relations and it’s resulted in a growing mistrust of cops.
Stop-and-frisk has always been an issue because it targets youth in communities of color and results in numerous small marijuana arrests, but it wasn’t until the West Indian Day Labor Day Parade when the cops started really “wilding”.

It started with cops detaining and handcuffing City Councilman Jumaane Williams and an aide to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and then several were caught on video grinding it out with attendees at the parade. As an encore, there was the infamous Facebook posting, in which many alleged cops commented in a derogatory manner about the community they cover.

Most recently, the NYPD admitted it showed an alleged Islamophobic video to new recruits and veteran cops in which Kelly took part. Rather than man-up about doing the video, Kelly’s spokesperson, Paul Browne, appeared to cover it up. In either case, the video smacked of profiling and targeting Muslims.

Also, most recently, cops were caught on video beating a youth in the Bronx and then just last week, cops fatally shot 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, also in the Bronx. The officers reportedly cornered Graham in his bathroom and one of them fired one fatal round at close range at his chest. Graham was unarmed and no weapons were found in his home– only a small bag of marijuana was found in his toilet.

In the wake of the last incident, Williams and others have repeated his call for better communications between cops and the communities they cover.

“I recognize that police officers perform a highly difficult job and must make split-second decisions, but far too many of those decisions are resulting in a person of more color being shot and the officer saying, ‘I thought he had a gun.’ It has reached the point that any time you hear that someone unarmed has been shot by the NYPD, you can bet the bank they are black or brown,” said Williams.

“Countless communications have been sent to both the mayor and the commissioner from city leaders asking for a meeting to discuss the police accountability movement, including the 27 members of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus,” he added.

Locally, two Bedford-Stuyvesant precinct’s routinely refuse reporters access to public blotter items, and the 81st Precinct, which has been under investigation, has not released key crime statistics for the past 11 years.

Credit is due Kelly for his long length of service as commissioner under former Mayor David Dinkins and Bloomberg. Crime remains down to historic lows and local residents and officials appreciate the police and feel a heartfelt sadness anytime an officer is killed or shot in the line of duty.

But it’s time Kelly suck it up a little and go back to the basics of community policing.
This starts with more up-front honesty and agreeing to more police accountability.

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