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Letter: NYCLU: Union Leader Advances ‘Cynical and Disturbing’ View of Policing (Syracuse Post-Standard)

To the Editor: Jeff Piedmonte, president of the Syracuse Police Benevolent Association, asks the public to praise the Syracuse police for not killing black people when, in his view, they had the right to do so (“Praise Syracuse police for showing restraint in face of threats,” Oct. 19, 2016). This is a cynical and disturbing view of the role of the police in our society.

The responsibility for de-escalating situations and avoiding lethal force lies with police officers who have the badge, the weapons, the training, the backup and every other advantage in the situation. We have learned from too many experiences across the country that a person — especially a person of color — can do everything “right” in a police encounter and still end up being killed. In Syracuse, the Citizen Review Board, which was established to provide public accountability over the police department, has for years reported problems with excessive use of force.

This is a time to work toward healing the relationship between the police and the community and to advance reforms that will make our community safer for everyone, including the cops. Piedmonte’s view that civilians should comply or die is destructive to the work ahead.

Yusuf Abdul-Qadir, Central New York Chapter Director, New York Civil Liberties Union, Syracuse

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