Saturday, October 1, 2016

PBA President Calls For Council Backing

Under a past administration, some police personnel dealt directly with the mayor, sidestepping rules and leading to "command structure breakdown, personnel divide, low morale" and even allegations of criminal activity resulting in violations and even criminal charges.

So says a letter from PBA President Andre Crawford to City Council President Cory Storch in Monday's council packet that then describes new accountability and advances under Police Director Carl Riley, with a call for support from the governing body.

The letter echoes the message of a March presentation on police accreditation which detailed many improvements in local law enforcement, but failed to get full council support. Councilwoman Gloria Taylor had called for a council investigation of police "procedures and culture" and continued to do so in following months. A related issue, the alleged unfair treatment of Lt. Ken Reid, brought many speakers to the March meeting in support of Reid, including former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs. Mayor Adrian O. Mapp disclosed that five officers, both white and black, were facing disciplinary charges, but Reid supporters continued to allege racism in his case, even though details of the internal affairs matter were never disclosed. Reid has since retired.

Despite having drawn criticism for remarks on the 1967 killing of a police officer, Taylor repeated her call for an investigation in August and chastised Storch for not putting a resolution to investigate on the agenda. (See Plaintalker's August commentary on accreditation here)

In contrast to Taylor's depiction of Plainfield police, Crawford's letter states that under Riley's leadership, the division now has "structure, chain of command, and increased accountability of supervisors and officers."

"The Police Division now has a clear vision to address the best interest of Plainfield through accountability, division wide community policing, training, technology and better hiring practices," Crawford wrote. The letter also noted two police-sponsored community parties this summer, aimed at generating"positive interaction between the community and the police officers."

The letter concludes with a call for support from the governing body, whose members were copied on the correspondence.

"We don't need negative rhetoric in an attempt to derail our progression," Crawford writes. "Through some very troubling times, where the relationships are strained, at best, filled with doubt and a lack of trust," he says, "We should strive to be the example of police community relations by forging a positive working relationship and avoiding any negativity that could possibly derail our progression."

The letter is noted on the agenda for Monday's council meeting, 7:30 p.m. in Municipal Court, though no action is indicated.

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