Even Black law enforcement professionals in plain clothes or off-duty are in danger when doing the job they have been sworn to do. New York has a history, dating back to the 1940s; Black officers in plain clothes or off-duty have been shot at, shot, or killed by their white counterparts and never in the reverse. The shooting of Police Officer Omar Edwards, Detective Christopher Ridley of Westchester, along with the incident last year involving NYPD Police Chief Ziegler-- the highest ranking black official in the NYPD, who had weapons drawn on him by white NYPD officers while he was parked in a NYPD unmarked car with NYPD badge and ID around his neck, reminds us of the challenges we face as citizens of color and for Black law enforcement officers.
Black law enforcement professionals must be extra cautious when they react to situations when they are off duty or as plain clothes officers. It is unfortunate that the only time we are truly recognized as law enforcement is when they wear the blue uniform. Until perceptions of Black males are changed in the institutional structure of policing, the Black law enforcement community and the Black community at large will remain at a disadvantage and in danger.
Who protects the Black Law Enforcement while we protect and serve our communities? Its time for state politicians and community leaders to finally have the testicular fortitude to address this ongoing issue with Revolutionary Change in policy and procedure in the culture of Law Enforcement.
The Westchester Chapter has advised all members to react with caution while off duty. Only draw weapon if there is a threat to your life. Call 911 and stand aside. The life you might save will be your own.
Damon K. Jones