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DBCFHenry-Head)Pathways to Partnerships needed to reduce suspicions, fears and deaths

 As a result of negative encounters between law enforcement and the African-American community

The Democratic Black Caucus of Florida (DBCF) will ask our local chapters to discuss options on how to advance a pathway to partnership with law enforcement in their local jurisdictions.

The alleged suicide of Sandra Bland in Texas is the most recent incident involving law enforcement and the African-American community. This case and others like it, challenges all Americans, regardless of race, to understand root causes and identify effective and sustainable remedies. “The individual cases of Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Gardner and others are each, tragic.” declares Henry Crespo, Sr., DBCF president. “However, it’s their collective impact on our shared community that compels us to find pathways to partnership to reduce the suspicions, fears and deaths they represent.” he added.

DBCF shares the frustrations and concerns of most Americans over these troubling incidents. Accordingly, we seek and advocate for remedies that can be sustained over time to move us back to a point where mutual respect, trust and civility will, again, define and govern interactions between African-American citizens and law enforcement. “All citizens are expected to take personal responsibility for their behavior,” says Crespo. “However, law enforcement officer must be held not only to a personal standard of behavior, but also to the standards of their profession,”

DBCF expects law enforcement officers to be courteous, forgo biased suspicions and limit inappropriate profiling which reflects a ‘guilty till proven innocent’ standard. We expect law enforcement officers will not prematurely deploy deadly force, especially in responding to seemingly minor infractions. Additionally, we expect law enforcement to utilize body cameras and dash cams and never alter or otherwise manipulate tapes or written documents associated with citizen arrests and detentions.

DBCF suggest a few additional actions be adopted to advance a pathway to partnership.  Officer body cameras and vehicle dash cams should simultaneously broadcast video to police headquarters and a neutral, secure and approved third party. Appropriately empowered, joint citizen and law enforcement review panels should be established. And finally, officer training programs should be revised to include tools to assist officers who, more than their peers demonstrate or claim to ‘fear for their lives’ when in the line of duty they come into contact with Black males or other demographics subsets of the community. Collectively, these options can begin to heal the wounds and build community.

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    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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