Police brutality discussed at the 2015 NBC-LEO summer conference
By Roger Caldwell
The NBC-LEO is the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, which was started in 1970 to represent the interest of African American elected officials. Their mission is to ensure that policy and programs reflect African American concerns and benefit our community. The organization works with its members to inform them on African American issues, and devise ways to confront and address community objectives through legislation and direct action.
This year the caucus held its summer conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, August 5 thru 8 2015. At this conference, on Friday, August 8, there was a panel discussion on police brutality, one of the most controversial topics in the country. Many African Americans believe that the majority of police are White racist, who think most young Black men are thugs and criminals.
The police on the other hand believe America has the best policing model in the world, because they keep our citizens safe. Police should be protected, because they are willing to give their life to protect the citizens of the country. But this summer, the fatal shooting of Black unarmed men by police are forcing the Black community to ask the question, “Can the police be trusted?”
“You can pay now (with police training) or you can pay later (in lawsuits). You’ve got to ensure that your community trusts your police department, and has faith they will do their jobs,” said Judge Denise Langford Morris of Oakland, California. She was joined on the panel, by Fort Lauderdale Police Major Gregory Salters, Miramar Assistant Police Chief Dexter Williams, and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, City Council member Deborah Delgado.
The panel agreed that police need body cameras, but many of the counties across the country will not be in a position to afford a million dollar investment. In many small police departments, they are being forced to merge with larger departments, because their tax base is too small. In Ferguson, the police department was exploiting the Black community with excessive ticketing, and an illegal collection system.
Closer to home, in Fort Lauderdale the city manager fired in March three police officers and another one resigned over racist videos and texts. The Broward state attorney has charged four police officers with excessive force, 18 other are under investigation for similar offenses, and 11 with police-involved shootings.
In the perfect world, the panel discussed how different police agencies are trying to build relationships with residents, beginning with the youth. In Fort Lauderdale there is a national Police Explorers program that exposes high school students to law enforcement careers. But, in the Black community there are only a handful of officers that the youth can trust, and the majority of officers operate within the Blue code of silence.
The police protect each other, and the corrupt officers are allowed to operate without any accountability. Police brutality and corruption is a hot topic today, because it exists in every police department in the country. It is not being challenged, because there would be a fundamental transformation needed in the country, and at this time very few police are willing to break the Blue code of silence.