As a body of men and women of color employed as criminal justice practitioners, the members and Board of Directors of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Inc. (NABLEO) have, since their inception, consistently taken an active stance against racially discriminatory practices and disparate treatment in law enforcement, and other instances of social injustice that bring both division and discredit to our chosen profession.
It is with this in mind that we lend our support to the efforts of members of the Englewood, New Jersey Police Department who have chosen to support their administrative leaders, Chief of Police Lawrence Suffern and Deputy Chief of Police Gregory Halstead, even while their labor union has voiced a vote of no confidence.
Their choice to express a constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech has resulted in their suspension from their labor union for a period of one year. We find this to be not only exceptionally harsh and subject to legal scrutiny, but suspiciously discriminatory as, with one exception, each of the officers who are now facing the union’s wrath are African American members of the agency.
As well, one must consider the actions of the union to be suspicious in light of one simple, irrefutable fact – ALL persons, to include law enforcement personnel, who wish to speak in support of the activities, practices and efforts of law enforcement, particularly in these days of increasingly harsh public criticism of our activities, do so under the constitutional protection of their First Amendment Rights. This seems to be a point of fact that has escaped the leadership of both the Englewood PBA Local 216 and the Bergen County PBA Conference.
When the institutions and leadership that are sworn to protect us choose to act and speak in discriminatory, racially divisive, and intentionally intimidating tones, it does nothing less than perpetuate the narrative that police are racists, with no regard, acknowledgement, respect or understanding of the issues and concerns of both the communities of color that they are paid to serve, and those officers of color whose honorable history of service extends for nearly two centuries, having played a significantly pivotal role in the scheme of police-community relations, even while their services, impact and accomplishments have been largely ignored by their professional counterparts.
The Board of Directors and General Membership of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Inc. gives its full, complete and wholehearted support not only to the members, Chief Suffern and Deputy Chief Halstead of the Englewood, New Jersey Police Department, but the community-at-large who are deserving of a much higher quality of service than the leadership of the Englewood PBA Local 216 appear willing or qualified to provide.