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Black officers hurt when our community hurts

Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers dismayed at actions of some police officers

MAMLEO Board of Directors

The killing of George Floyd and the many other reported incidents of people of color dying or being killed because of the actions of police officers or vigilantes has left us hurting, emotionally drained and dismayed. The members of the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers (MAMLEO) understand that those actions are not isolated in nature but reflect the long history of people of color being mistreated and killed by members of our profession. We rebuke the actions of the Minneapolis police officers who participated in the killing of George Floyd. Our members and many Boston Police officers understand the legacy of abuse by the criminal justice system against people of color. Many of MAMLEO’s members have had family members victimized by the criminal justice system and have experienced the discriminatory practices prevalent in the criminal justice system themselves.

Our association remains committed to the ideals of our founders, to diversify the criminal justice systems ranks and to advocate for and protect our communities when they are abused or not given the level of service that their tax dollars deserve. Our members understand the need for policy and change in police enforcement tactics and we have advocated for such change in policing practices in our communities. MAMLEO members took the oath to serve and protect our communities and we joined our organization to be part of this most needed change in the culture of policing, especially towards communities of color, since the late 1960s. Our membership reflects a truly diverse tapestry of every community, ethnicity and culture of Boston.

Our association has a history of calling out individuals when their statements don’t conform to our mission and most of all don’t produce an avenue for dialogue and meaningful exchange. Our members view every interaction with the community as an opportunity to bridge the negative legacy of our profession. Our members take pride in the work that we do while working in uniform and in the community engagement that we do on our own time. Our recent political climate has allowed discord and mistrust to penetrate law enforcement and elected officials’ view of the Boston style of policing, based on events that have not occurred in this city.

We hurt when our community hurts. We view every interaction with the community as an opportunity to bridge the negative legacy of our profession. We find it abhorrent when some individuals seek to create division between us and our community, nor will we stand by while others seek to mar and discredit the good that we have done and continue to do every day. We know what it means to be black in America and we suffer when harm is done to any member of our community. It is not right that people should paint all police officers as one homogenous group that condones every action of another police officer.

Our members know that in order for police misconduct to prevail in a department or agency it has to have partners or elected political figures who turn a blind eye on their misconduct. In our experience, this is not the case in the city of Boston. We can all agree that changes need to be made in order to better serve our communities of color, but we strongly believe that our police department should be hailed as a model of community policing and engagement for communities of color.

Our association is always looking for partners to create meaningful and productive changes within policing that will benefit the communities in which we work, represent, live, grew up and raise our children. This is the time to get to work and implement proven policies that serve this purpose, but we must be respectful of those involved in the process and not allow our frustration and disgust of our current status quo to get in the way of forming partnerships to achieve our mutual goals. We want to unite to create change with all like-minded people who want to rid the world of racism, advance social justice, make police departments more diverse and never allow another incident like Minneapolis to occur.

The MAMLEO board of directors: Stephanie Gaines, Nicole Grant, Lylana Henderson, Jeffrey Lopes, Walter Mitchell, Cliff Singletary, Zandrina Townsend, Albert Williams

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