NBPA held 41st annual conference in Miami
NBPA held 41st annual conference in Miami
By Derek Joy
There was an ironic twist of fate at work when the National Black Police Association convened its 41st Annual Education and Training Conference at the Miami Marriot Biscayne Bay. Miami Dade County, along with its County Seat – city of Miami – and surrounding municipalities were abuzz in the recent spate of violence. Gangland style murders and drive-by shootings rocked Miami Gardens. South Miami in shock from the man who murdered his wife, posted pictures and notes on Facebook, and then surrendered at the South Miami Police Department.
And there were the indictments and arrests of the Mayors of Miami Lakes and Sweetwater, who were ensnared in an FBI investigation. Gov. Rick Scott has since suspended Sweetwater Mayor Manny Marono and Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi, who is also Medley’s city attorney. Nevertheless, the NBPA swept through its weeklong conference – Aug. 11-18 – with participants from no less than 15 states.
“The NBPA has made a commitment that we’ll never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Malik Aziz, NBPA Board Chairman and Deputy Chief for the Dallas (Tex.) Police Department, speaking to the audience at the Memorial Service held at New Jerusalem Primitive Baptist Church. “It is with this prayer that we ask, oh God, that no new names are added to the roll call of honor,” added Azziz, in calling the 35 names of law enforcement officers who were killed or died in the line of duty during the past year. As Aziz called each name and the date of death, NBPA National Sergeant At Arms, Deputy Sheriff C. W. Thatcher of the King County (Seattle, Wash.) Sheriff’s Department, answered, “Absent.”
The Memorial Service at New Jerusalem was preceded by a march from Northwest 12th Avenue and 95th Street, east to Northwest Seventh Avenue, and south to the church at 85th Street. Thatcher, a New Jersey native, was asked his thoughts on attending the Conference in Miami, and his response was succinct.
“It’s always great,” said Thatcher. “We travel all over. Miami is one of the pioneer cities where our organization was founded.”
The National Black Police Association was chartered in November 1972 as a non-profit corporation in the state of Illinois. That came on the heels of an historic meeting in St. Louis, Mo., where some 13 African American police with 109 representatives were present. Today, the NBPA operates geographically from five regions: Northeast Region, Eastern Region, Southern Region, Midwest Region and the Western Region. Its National Headquarters is in Washington, D.C.
The NBPA is proactive on relevant issues and has established positions on community policing, control of illegal narcotics, crime prevention, the death penalty, handgun control, and police brutality, and police residency, women in police work, affirmative action and racial profiling.
“The Conferences are all the same, all very educational,” said Valerie Johnson, Sergeant At Arms for the City of Miami Police Chapter and the Southern Region. “We have local and National Conferences. I’ve only missed one or two in the last nine years.”
“I get enjoyment because it’s educational. I get to meet people, learn a lot. I learn things to come back share with my Citizens Advisory Committee and Neighborhood Crime Watch Organization.”
In addition to the education and training, the NBPA also awards college scholarship s at its Annual Conferences. This year, NBPA awarded 10 scholarships. Scholarship winners are: Tamir Wheeler- Weaver, a graduate of Seto Hall Prep, West Orange, N.J.; Benjamin Williams, a graduate of Pinecrest High School, Southern Pines, N.C.; Maila Superville, a graduate of Pompano Beach High School, Pompano Beach, Fla.; Kahlil Andres, a graduate of Gahr High School, Carson City California, and Deandre Thomas, a graduate of Auburndale High School, Auburn-dale, Fla.
The other five winners are: Jazmine Meggett, a graduate of Dumont High School, in Dumont, N.J.; Nayely Martinez, a graduate of J.B.S. Law Magnet High School, in Dallas, Tex.; Alayna Garner, a graduate of Cedar Hill Collegiate High School, in Cedar Hill, Tex., Carmay S. Claiborne, a graduate of Inkster High School, in Inkster, Mich., and Robnisha Murray, a graduate of Waggener High School, in Louisville, Ky. The weeklong Conference featured the offspring of two former law enforcement officers. Rev. Darian Bouie, associate minister at New Jerusalem Primitive Baptist Church, delivered the sermon at the Memorial Service, and Florida State Rep. Cynthia Stafford, (Dem., Dist. 109), was the guess speaker at the Banquet. Bouie’s father, Terrance James Bouie, a Miami Dade Police Officer died in the line of duty 15 years ago. Stafford is the daughter of retired city of Miami Police officer Columbus Stafford.
Said Aziz: “I think all departments have something special issues to deal with. But most of all we seek to serve the citizens. And that’s the objective in 18,000 municipalities.”