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A year and a half after the police shooting of Sean Bell, city, state and federal leaders released a report with questionable recommendations.
Bell's death was tragic. It is appropriate that a study was done to see how the city might avoid such a tragedy in the future. The report says "an emphasis should be placed on training with interactive real-life scenarios in which officers confront ethical dilemmas in deciding on level of force."
We are not sure what that means. All NYPD trainees spend time at Rodman's Neck, where they experience realistic scenarios involving street confrontations, weapons searches and housing pursuits. Although cadet weapons fire blanks, the training is intense and it is made clear to the cadets that a mistake could cost them their own or an innocent's life.
The report suggests police get training in non-lethal tactics. Does that include already-controversial expanded Taser use? Officers are trained to fire weapons when necessary to protect their or innocents' lives.
Some recommendations appear political. The initiative would authorize the state attorney general to create an independent jurisdiction to prosecute officers charged with crimes to ensure no conflict of interest. Said the panel, "The legislation will restore public confidence in our legal system."
Malarkey. The legal system worked. District Attorney Richard Brown prosecuted the officers involved. The officers involved still face internal discipline that could cost them their careers, as well civil law suits. It is possible they will face federal charges. Nothing justifies creating an independent jurisdiction. This report insults Brown and his office.
We do not see any reason to give alcohol and drug tests to officers when they fire their weapons.
Relations between the police and the southeast Queens black community have been strained by Bell's death, even though some officers involved were black. The real problem, which keeps black mothers awake at night, is the black-on-black violence.
Tragedies like the Bell shooting are rare, but gang and drug-related violence, like the killing of young black men and shooting of innocents in public housing, is becoming too common.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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