Letter: Kingston police union decries ‘false narrative’ of bias and excessive force

The Kingston P.B.A. Union, Inc., represents the brave men and women who serve the City of Kingston as police officers, individuals who selflessly serve this community and the residents they are sworn to protect. In the past year, a false narrative concerning our members has emerged and been championed by a few individuals in the city. Claims of excessive force and bias have been lodged against our members, and to date, the city and the PBA have remained silent as the cases have moved through the criminal justice system. The cases are over and today that silence ends.

Policing is the most transparent profession in our community, if not the nation. Our officers wear body cameras, drive patrol cars containing two cameras and GPS; radio and phone calls are recorded, and the data from our tasers are stored and can be accessed by a third party. Every encounter is recorded and every event documented. While this unprecedented transparency allows the community to hold police officers accountable when their actions are improper, it also serves to shield officers from false or misleading allegations. We no longer need to accept the false allegations and reckless comments made by the few.

Two incidents in the city have been the subject of public scrutiny and much media attention. The first involved an individual arrested in September of 2015 who was allegedly “tased” twenty-one times. This was clearly a gross exaggeration as the subject was tasered 2 times in response to his behavior and non-compliance. In fact, the individual broke the law, was arrested for his conduct and just recently, was convicted after a trial by a jury of his peers.

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The second incident that has garnered much news coverage was an arrest of a subject on Broadway stemming from a city code violation, possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage. When the officer questioned him for this violation, this young man changed a simple conversation into an arrest. He recently entered a plea instead of taking his case to a jury trial.

After careful review by a team of highly trained professionals, the conclusion was unanimous: The police officers involved in these arrests handled themselves well. Their actions met the highest professional standards of the profession and were consistent with their training. The officers’ actions were measured, proportional and appropriate.

Sadly, the common denominator in both incidents was the personal conduct of the individuals stopped by our officers. Not only were they uncooperative, they were combative. The actions of the individuals in question resulted in their arrest and convictions. It did not have to be this way. That nobody was seriously injured is a testament to the officers’ rigorous training and the restraint they demonstrated during these challenging interactions.

Mayor Noble’s actions and statements regarding these matters have been disappointing, to say the least. He knew for months that no one had been “tased” 21 times, but chose to keep the truth hidden for fear of angering members of the community. He knew that the officers had scrupulously followed the law and department procedures. He knew that all internal investigations had exonerated the officers. Instead of informing the community of these facts he inexplicably announced that they would face command discipline. This is political pandering at its worst.

Needless to say, no one has been disciplined over these incidents because no one did anything wrong.

Some in the community would have you see us as the problem, but when you see parents at school meetings or playing catch with their kids, remember that’s us too. We raise our families next to yours, coach your kids in Little League, and donate every penny we can to local sports and activities for our youth! We help unlock your vehicle, help you find the family dog and even hand out candy to your children on Halloween! That is who we really are. So, when you see a Kingston police officer on the street, keep an open mind and don’t let the heated political rhetoric of a few poison our community. Feel free to stop and have a conversation with him or her, we are happy to help you in any way we can. You might be surprised to find we share a lot in common. Thank you for your continued support.

Kingston P.B.A. Union, Inc.
Kingston

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