The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Taylor, Toliver tank resolution supporting police

Police Director Riley's key staffers presented
a detailed overview of the Police Division.

Some of the three dozen or so officers and cadets
who were in attendance last evening.

With only five members present, a motion at Monday evening's special Plainfield City Council meeting in support of the Plainfield Police Division failed when Councilor Gloria Taylor voted "no" and Councilor Diane Toliver abstained. That Left Councilors Barry Goode, Rebecca Williams and Council President Cory Storch in favor. The motion would have needed four "yes" votes to pass. Councilors Tracey Brown and Bridget Rivers were absent.

A presentation by Police Director Carl Riley and key staff members highlighted the Division's work in several areas --

  • Recruitment efforts to expand the force -- and its current demographics;

  • Outlining the accreditation process in which we are currently engaged;

  • A video highlighting Community Policing, with an emphasis on youth outreach;

  • Explaining the three forms of disciplinary action (criminal misconduct, administrative misconduct, and performance deficiency) and the processes and authorities involved -- including several levels of appeal; and

  • The dominant role that technology now plays in policing -- especially in communications, surveillance, intelligence gathering, data mapping and crime analysis.
The presentation definitively put to bed allegations that the Division is unrepresentative of the community, that there is a culture of racism, and that the Division is unprofessional.

In remarks before the presentation got under way, retired Police Chief Ed Santiago alluded to the internal affairs process about which supporters of Lt. Kenny Reid are complaining, explaining that Reid -- like other disciplined officers -- has three levels of appeal if they wish to challenge the discipline handed down.

At the presentation's conclusion, Council President Storch invited comments from Council members.

Councilor Taylor took the mike first for an extended peroration. Without remorse or apology for having made unfounded accusations about the Police Division at last Monday's council meeting, she instead chose to try covering her tracks by professing her support of the Division, but only wishing it focused on Community Policing (completely ignoring the ground covered by the presentation on this topic).

Saying she is "not one to sit back and let political games be played," she nevertheless played a political game of her own, trying to walk the fine line of backing both the Division and supporters of Lt. Reid.

Councilor Williams took the opportunity to apologize once again to Director Riley for initially supporting the investigation resolution last Monday and made clear she was not in favor of going forward with that resolution.

Council President Storch, in a statesmanlike manner, suggested the Division should "go further" with Community Policing, and that the Council should move forward without an investigation.

Public comment was then opened. Though Storch tried to underscore that comment should be on the resolution on the agenda, several Reid supporters felt obliged to focus on the matter of the discipline meted out to him. When public comment was finally closed, we did learn some new facts before the vote was taken.

While Council President Storch alluded to other officers being involved in the Reid incident and that they were "diverse", Mayor Mapp was more pointed. He revealed that of the five officers involved in the situation, three were white and two African American, saying that should dispel ideas that Reid's situation was somehow racially motivated.

As the Council prepared to vote the resolution, Councilors Taylor and Toliver weighed in with objections to its second paragraph --

WHEREAS, after reviewing this information [from the Prosecutor, about the incident in question], the Plainfield City Council believes that the investigation and subsequent disciplinary actions were handled in a fair and objective manner according to applicable laws...
saying they could not support that statement, thus leading to the outcome I noted at the beginning of this post.

The only persons with legal standing in the matter are Lt. Reid and the unnamed fellow officers involved. They have options to appeal for relief.

So here we have it, some of the Council are for applying the rules to all equally, and some are for special treatment for "special" people.

Perhaps resident Elvis Belle summed it up best in his public comments, when he pointed out the "disconnect" between Taylor and Toliver saying they supported the Police Division and yet disputing the disciplinary process' conclusions.

On a personal note, readers are aware that I have had my own "interaction" with the Police Division -- if you are not, you must be the only one in Plainfield who is out of the loop. I congratulated Director Riley afterwards for the excellent presentation and assured him of my wholehearted support for the Division and its professionalism and in executing its duties without fear or favor.

I only wish in Lt. Reid's matter for the same kind of fair and impartial justice as he would have wished for me in my situation.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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