the police issue
by sarah & nick

volume i. issue i. march 2018.

Police Accountability
by sarah

The current mayor of NYC is constantly walking a tightrope where one one side is the entire police union distraught with not feeling “supported” by the city and the other are the pleas of communities of color and minorities throughout the city asking for an end to the over policing, criminalization and brutalization of their neighborhoods.

How can there be accountability without transparency?

There can’t be. It’s been made clear that the Police commissioner of NYPD finds no cause to fire individuals who themselves commit crimes. NY is one of 23 states that withhold police misconduct records, labeling them confidential (WNYC). Previous court cases in 2017 NY courts found that the law that shields these records should be upheld, ensuring that the city takes steps to discipline officers (NYT). However, it’s been made clear with recent reports that the discipline that is said to be happening, is not.

Who Polices the Police?

One Police Plaza is supposed to take on the role of police discipline. There have been reports leaked of payoffs and settlements from the NYPD, with as much as $900,000 in settlements having been paid off for one Officer Marrero. The Police commissioner did not fire Officer Marrero, he’s still working on the force. After arresting civilians for no reason, committing assault and lying to the department he was given dismissal probation and denied 45 vacation days. If someone like him is allowed to stay on the force, why should we entrust the commissioner and the city to effectively police the police? (Buzzfeed News)

On our campus

Previously cops were undercover on our campus. They targeted two muslim students trying to elicit evidence of terrorism. This outward profiling of Muslim students demonstrates the animosity the police department and the city has towards muslims. The dismissal of our rights and the invasion of our campus demonstrates their feelings of entitlement to our spaces and personal lives.

What can we do?

What we can’t do is rely on the police commissioner to discipline the police. The presence of police on our campus with the knowledge that they do not have to be held accountable for their actions forces students into a position of fear.

We should:

Demand that police officers on campus are removed.
Why? If there is an assault there is no guarantee for justice for the students.

Do not allow police officers into our buildings.
Why? They have a history of surveillance against minority students.

Demand that police disciplinary records be made available to the public.
Why? If the city itself will not hold these men and women accountable then the public should have the ability to.

Police and Security Do Not Equal "Safety"
by nick

It is commonly understood that police and the criminal justice system exist to maintain order; that without these institutions, society would descend into crime and lawlessness. In reality, the criminal justice system exists as a state apparatus of social control. Police enforce and produce inequality to create a veneer of “order”. This veneer exists only in the eyes of wealthy elites who benefit from the suppression of workers and people of color (these, of course, are not mutually exclusive groups). Rather than prevent, crime the system creates crime and criminals. For example, the War on Drugs created criminals out of minor drug users and addicts. Addicts who, in reality, need counseling and treatment not incarceration.

Procedural crime shows like Law & Order give us a distorted vision of what police do. Police do very little to solve crimes and even less to prevent them. Most detectives make only 1 or 2 felony arrests per year, and keep in mind that detectives make up only a small fraction of police forces. The reality is that most felonies don’t get reported to the police, and the ones that do are hardly investigated.

Recently on our campus there has been a discussion about the issue of school shootings. Calls for arming our Public Safety officers further, or for stricter policing of the entrances to campus would do little to prevent these tragedies. Stricter security at the gates would just ensure that whoever is working the gates would be the first to get shot. Moreover, most school shooters are members of the communities they attack. As for increasing the amount of officers that carry weapons, the data tells us that this does little to prevent shootings or lessen the body count. The fact is that there were armed guards at nearly all of the school shootings in the last twenty years, and that changed nothing.

Increasing security on our campus does not mean a safer campus. Policing is extremely expensive and hardly effective. Brooklyn College’s Public Safety Fiscal Year 2018 budget is upwards of $2.8 million. What if we spent some of that money on our crumbling infrastructure? It is more than likely that any increase in policing will lead to an increase of the criminalization of us, the students, particularly students of color. Our campus police and the NYPD already have a history of abusing us, do we really want to increase their strength on our campus?