A troublesome relationship between the New York City police unions and the former Bronx district attorney has prompted a series of meetings with the new Bronx DA to ameliorate the situation, according to reports Monday.
New Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark took office Jan. 1 and has since met with representatives of three top local police unions. Former District Attorney Robert Johnson had a troubled relationship with police unions and was even accused for being anti-police in a time of escalated tensions between law enforcement and the local community. Clark notes the first step is to reopen broken communications with the unions.
“I thought it was important to meet with everyone face-to-face, since I plan on working closely with them,” Clark said to the New York Post. “To create quality investigations in cases that are fair.”
Clark is already close with law enforcement in her personal life. Her husband is a Manhattan homicide detective, which helps her sympathize with police and how difficult their jobs can be. She has already met with Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), the Detective’s Endowment Association (DEA) and the Captains Endowment Association.
“I have a judicial background, and I am married to a New York City detective,” Clark said. “I know how hard their job is.”
The unions have been generally happy with the effort thus far and note the discussions have been productive, reports The Post. DEA President Michael Palladino adds they don’t want special treatment but rather to be treated fairly. He said reopening lines of communications is a good move.
Local police unions have been highly critical of Johnson for what they describe as an anti-police attitude. PBA President Patrick Lynch accused Johnson of putting politics ahead of the truth when investigation into the police shooting of an unarmed Bronx teenager in 2000, the Chicago Tribune reported at the time. Lynch and Johnson also disagreed in 2013 when a grand jury decided not to indict an officer over the shooting death of a different Bronx teen, The Wall Street Journal reported that year.
Johnson is not alone, as union officials have denounced other city officials for what they view as unfair treatment of police officers. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was protested by police and union officials for allegedly creating an anti-police environment that resulted in the deaths of Officer Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.
Police within the city and across the country have been faced with growing resentment from anti-police advocates. Protests against police have appeared across America in response to several incidences of alleged police misconduct that garnered national attention in the last couple years.
New York police were denounced over an incident that resulted in the death of city resident Eric Garner. Officer Daniel Pantaleo was accused of choking Garner to death in 2014 after the man was found selling untaxed cigarettes. Garner was heard shouting that he couldn’t breathe as he was wrestled to the ground. The incident made national headlines and sparked a debate on police using excessive force and institutional racism.
Additionally, Freddie Gray died last year from spinal injuries while in the custody of Baltimore police. Michael Brown was shot dead in Ferguson, Mo. by local police. Both deaths resulted in several protests as well as riots and looting.
The Black Lives Matter movement started in 2013 to combat violence against minority populations. Participants have rallied against police brutality and what they see as systematic racism on nearly every level of government. Protesters listed Tamir Rice, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Jonathan Ferrell, Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose and Gray among others as examples of unjust violence against black individuals.
The movement has been denounced by some critics for its brash methods. Protesters hijacked a rally Aug. 8 for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders. While Sanders, a self-proclamied Democratic-socialist and civil rights advocate, helplessly stood by, protesters made demands in the microphone.
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