Sections

Panel at A.M.E Cathedral says city’s justice system weighted against minorities

Councilman Rory Lancman joined a panel of experts on reforming the criminal justice system.
TimesLedger Newspapers
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:

The Greater Allen A.M.E Cathedral in Jamaica hosted a panel discussion Saturday on the criminal justice system to examine the roots of the issues facing communities of color.

Among the topics were over policing, stop and frisk, mass incarceration, the “blue wall” and bias in the court system against minorities. The featured panelist were City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest), civil rights lawyer Royce Russell and Rainece Medley, a representative from the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Each gave their positions on the current state of the criminal justice system and then took questions from audience members.

“So many of the problems that we have in our country, social problems, mental health problems, economic problems, have over the course of a few decades been turned more and more into policing problems,” Lancman said. “On the issue of mental health, about 40 percent of the people in Rikers Island at any given time have a mental health diagnosis. Some of them might also be legitimate criminals. The fact is that we have no real system in New York for dealing with people who have mental health issues that puts them out in the street and puts them in a situation where their only interaction with government is going to be a police officer.”

Lancman also spoke about how over policing is largely focused on minority neighborhoods and then turns young kids into criminals.

He pointed out that in the past a police officer may have reprimanded a young person to stop riding his bike on the sidewalk or to leave the park after dark, but now many people in certain communities are being given criminal summonses to appear in criminal court.

“Failure to appear results in a warrant for your arrest and it’s to the point where in New York City we have over a million open arrest warrants for people who didn’t appear in criminal court for these low-level, quality-of-life offenses. If you look, it’s not very mysterious, who is getting these criminal summons. Where is the focus of this low level criminal enforcement falling upon? It’s in communities of color.”

For example, Lancman said some 2,000 summons are issued every year for riding bikes on sidewalks in Bedford Stuyvesant, but in affluent Park Slope the number is only eight.

Medley spoke about what people should do if they have an unpleasant encounter with police. CCRB investigates and mediates complaints from the public about misconduct by NYPD officers. It handles complaints about excessive force, abuse of authority, discourtesy and offensive language. She encouraged anyone who has experienced misconduct to file a complaint so that investigations can begin.

But, much to the displeasure of the audience, she told them the CCRB holds only so much power. When CCRB finds that an officer committed misconduct the case is turned over to the police commissioner, who has the sole authority to impose discipline. They were reminded, though, that CCRB is able to document complaints and leaves a paper trail that might be useful in the future.

“The value in CCRB is that you need to start to have a record,” Russell said. “If a person choked you one time and got away with it, the likelihood that they’ll do it again is very, very high. And if you skip the process of CCRB, then the record may not be made for which someone else .... in another time, another borough who may come to contact with that officer.”

He said the CCRB by compiling a record can make a small case stronger.

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

Posted 12:00 am, October 31, 2016
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:

Reader feedback

Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
Maybe they should investigate this money bag church run by corrupt Rev. Flake. I am sure there are tons of goodies waiting for the right journalist on the money bags preacher.
Oct. 31, 2016, 10:20 am
Wrong focus from queens says:
He is whining about summons being higher in certain neighborhoods. The issue should be to lower the crimes that happen everywhere. Lowering crime is the issue not how many of each color commit the crimes.
Oct. 31, 2016, 2:34 pm
Joe Moretti from Jamiaca says:
Lancman also spoke about how over policing is largely focused on minority neighborhoods.

WELL, does it ever occur to Lancman that the majority of crimes happen in minority neighborhoods, especially black communities or does that fact just get shoved under the politically correct carpet.
Oct. 31, 2016, 4:19 pm
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
Lancman also forgot to mention that just this past Sunday right near Flakes's Money Kingdom church a person was shot to death (who happened to kill someone in 2001 not far from this spot) and that three killings took place in this same area this year, one being a deli owner.

AND that is why over policing takes place in these kind of areas due to over criminal activity.
Oct. 31, 2016, 4:25 pm
yshaggy from jamaica says:
This meeting should have been labeled a "Dance recital" because they did just that around the real issues in these hoods, it's always someone or somebody else causing the problems.
Oct. 31, 2016, 5:05 pm
chumley from Queens says:
The rayce kard is there in the deck to be played and the Martinez woman stu. pidly picked that kard. Don't quit your day job, fo.ol.
Nov. 1, 2016, 5:16 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

Classifieds

Do you know an immigrant in Queens who has made an impact on the community? Nominate a person who has made a difference for the 2018 Queens Ambassador Awards.
Community News Group

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!