A settlement announced late today between the U.S. Department of Justice and the Suffolk County Police Department should enhance public safety by improving relations between the Police Department and immigrant residents, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The SCPD is subject to the settlement because of a federal investigation concerning discriminatory policing following the murder of Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero in Patchogue. Lucero was stabbed to death in November 2008 while being attacked by a group of local teenagers who were out assaulting Latino immigrants for sport.
“Years of discriminatory county policies bred hostility toward immigrants that manifested itself in the senseless murder of Mr. Lucero,” said Amol Sinha, director of the NYCLU’s Suffolk County Chapter. “We are optimistic this settlement will put our community on a new path where everyone feels safe, secure, valued and respected, regardless of race or ethnicity.”
The agreement calls for responses to allegations of discriminatory tactics, training on cultural sensitivity and bias-free policing, meaningful language access, and robust community engagement.
“The Suffolk Police Department is now accountable to both the federal government and the public. It should take this opportunity to earn the community’s trust and restore its reputation,” Sinha said. “Public safety suffers when immigrant residents are afraid to engage the local police. Hopefully, this settlement will help the Police Department meet its obligation to protect and serve all residents.”