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Bell widow wants police who shoot to be drug tested

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"There was a toxicology test taken on Sean," Paultre said as her and Bell's 7-month old daughter Jordan sat just a few feet away. "No toxicology reports were taken on the officers who were allowed to drink and use their firearms. My daughters now have to grow up without their daddy."Paultre's testimony came during a day-long "Tri-level Joint Legislative Task Force" hearing last Thursday in Greenwich Village. U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), state Sens. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica), Councilmen Leroy Comrie (D-Jamaica) and James Sanders (D-Laurelton) and Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) were all on-hand to hear testimony from Paultre, civil rights activists, attorneys and others in an attempt to develop proposals to reform police procedures in New York and other urban areas throughout the state.The hearing came one day after Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly testified before the council's Public Safety Committee. Comrie was on-hand for the hearing and said there appears to be a "major disconnect between the police administration and the situation in the streets."The creation of the tri-level task force was announced by Smith in the days after Bell was shot dead by police in downtown Jamaica on Nov. 25, just hours before he was to be married. Last Thursday, Smith again said that bringing the three levels of government together would prevent the "jurisdiction challenges" that have plagued previous efforts to change the manner in which police operate. Smith said a total of five hearings will be held over the next 10 months, with the final installment to be held in Queens on the one-year anniversary of Bell's death."After that hearing, we'll begin to work up our blueprint for how to move forward," Smith said.The testimony last Thursday lasted most of the day, but the Police Department was not represented. Smith said he hopes that Kelly will choose to testify before the panel at some point in the future. Still, there were questions as to whether the panel would be successful without the participation of the police. Some in southeast Queens have also questioned recently whether there is any law that can prevent another "Sean Bell-type shooting" - an incident many residents believe stemmed from a culture of disrespect toward minorities that they contend exists in the Police Department.Paultre was joined at the hearing by her attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, who reiterated her call to have police officers who discharge their weapons be tested for drugs and alcohol. Rubenstein also told the panel that a special prosecutor's office, that would operate out of the attorney general's office, should be created to investigate cases of police brutality."Honest, well-intentioned district attorneys have a built-in conflict," Rubenstein said. "DAs need police to make every other case."Prominent civil rights attorney Norman Siegel also testified last Thursday and told the panel that the Citizens Complaint Review Board, which investigates allegations of police misconduct, needs to be reformed.Reach reporter Craig Giammona by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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