(re: “CB8’s public safety committee has no teeth,” Feb. 8)
I write in response to Jennifer Scarlott’s recent Point of View regarding the Jan. 16 meeting of Community Board 8’s public safety committee.
Ms. Scarlott requested speaking time on the public safety committee agenda, which was granted. She spoke about the Oct. 6 arrest of Alfred Burns, and allegations that the officers making the arrest used excessive force. CB8 takes such allegations very seriously, and we are certainly focused on the incident.
Fortunately, our city has a number of processes to address such matters, and these processes are currently underway.
We understand that the incident in question is currently before the Civilian Complaint Review Board, and the Internal Affairs Bureau of the New York Police Department. The CCRB and internal affairs are mandated and staffed to investigate such claims, and empowered to make findings of fact. We are gratified to know that these serious allegations are currently under review of the government bodies that are empowered to address them, and we look forward to their findings that are made public.
In contrast, CB8’s public safety committee has no authority or staff ability to investigate allegations of the use of excessive force by the NYPD. The public safety committee operates pursuant to its mission statement to assist and monitor the police and fire departments in our community board, and track crime and fire incident statistics.
Among its responsibilities are the approval and disapproval of new and renewal liquor license applications. Its activities are focused on the welfare and improvement of our community.
Ms. Scarlott was provided a meaningful period of time to make a presentation before the committee. Thereafter, although no one else had requested time in which to speak, due to the seriousness of the issue, the committee chair offered others in the audience an opportunity to voice any views on the topic.
Several other individuals spoke.
Moreover, the committee chair did address several questions that were posed by the various speakers.
Ms. Scarlott was apparently not satisfied with the significant period of time the committee dedicated to this subject. This was not the only item on the agenda for the evening, and after an appropriate period of time, the committee chair did need to bring the conversation to a close.
As for Ms. Scarlott’s concern that the public safety committee should not be meeting at the 50th Precinct, I have to admit some surprise at her suggestion. In this age of community policing, it is generally acknowledged that activities aimed at forging bonds between police and the public at large result in meaningful dividends in terms of public safety and the establishment of a constructive relationship based on mutual respect.
For that reason, among others, we are pleased to be able to hold our meetings at the 50th Precinct, as for many who attend, it may be the only time they ever visit the precinct, affording them a deeper appreciation of the regular presence of the NYPD in their lives.
I would think that Ms. Scarlott and North Bronx Racial Justice would find that to be a laudable goal.
The committee meets on the third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m., at the 50th Precinct. I would welcome and encourage all members of the community to attend.
The author is chair of Community Board 8.