Community leaders at roll calls and repealing stop-and-frisk cited among top recommendations by activists for 21st century policing.
Most community activists I know in Philadelphia who have been literally up in arms after the grand juries decided not to indict the killers of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, have promising relationships with local law enforcement, despite the anti-police undertones some of the demonstrations and chants aligned with the cause produce.
Mayor Michael A. Nutter, who in a video he recorded and sent to the Philadelphia Police Department to be played for a few days during rolls calls, clarified how communities are feeling, by acknowledging that people aren’t against policing, just “bad policing.”
The active citizens who maintain communications with Philadelphia beat cops, sergeants, detectives and even the police commissioner, all agree that the message in the video was needed, but the messenger… not so much.
“If you take a poll you’d find that the line troops have a less than favorable view of Mayor Nutter… so just because they listened doesn’t mean it resonated,” argues Mr. Malik Aziz, a prominent Philadelphia activist and former gang member.
A friend to former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson and someone who years ago used to attend evening roll calls across the city to deliver messages of support, standards and expectations to patrolmen before they hit the streets, Mr. Aziz is of the opinion that maybe it’s time to revisit that idea. He tells Techbook Online exclusively that he has already reached out to Mr. Tumar Alexander, the Cheif of Staff to Mayor Nutter, to begin the preliminary talks about coordinating the citywide effort.
“Activists and neighborhood leaders have a daily rapport with law enforcement and they already have the respect of the community,” remarks Mr. Aziz, who believes the next step should be for all stakeholders to meet, get on the same page and deliver a in-person message that would truly resonate with more than 6,000 Philadelphia police officers.
“It’s an idea that could work,” says South Philadelphia activist Mr. Anton Moore, who this Wednesday, December 17th, 2014, will be meeting with Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey to discuss how to improve police and community relations in the City.
Commissioner Ramsey was appointed by President Barack Obama in the aftermath of Ferguson to co-chair the Task Force on 21st Century Policing and has less than 90 days to return recommendations to Mr. Obama.
Mr. Aziz thinks that may be easier said than done, considering Commissioner Ramsey isn’t known for being a “community guy.”
“Community policing is a mindset and he doesn’t come into the community unless he’s getting an award,” states Mr. Aziz, whose been working in communities long before Cecil B. Moore had a street named after him in North Philadelphia.
Mr. Moore agrees with Mr. Aziz’s perception of Commissioner Ramsey.
“He acts like an outsider, but that’s because he is,” said Moore, who though he acknowledges Mr. Ramsey’s shortcomings, also praises the law enforcement veteran for having community-orientated guys like Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel and Richard Ross on his team.
And while he’s excited about being a part of a coalition of millennials who are advising the PPD C-Suite, Mr. Moore makes it clear that “you can’t move the needle on community and police relations without repealing stop-and-frisk.”
Mr. Aziz, who also isn’t a fan of stop-and-frisk, at the time of our conversation didn’t have the actual message in his head as to what should be said to police. But Mr. Moore thinks the message doesn’t need to be more than eight words: “you work with us, we work with you.”
Without question, Mr. Aziz, who thinks its open season on black men, said the role of the police in a post-Ferguson America should be to stop drawing their guns so quickly on black men and to refrain from giving into racial bias and stereotypes while patrolling communities of color.
Mr. Moore, while he agrees, thinks the community has a role, too, which is to “challenge itself to do better.”
“I see more (black) brothers having open season on one another,” said Moore, referring to the infamous narrative of black-on-black crime.
With at least a 25 year age gap between them, it’s expected that Mr. Aziz and Mr. Moore would have different views on a few things, mainly the progress of race relations in America and how that impacts policing in communities of color. But despite what they don’t agree on, both men find consensus on the fact that Philadelphia is ground zero for problems and opportunity and they are willing to submerse themselves in the issues, the politics and the people in order to create a better relationship between law enforcement and they communities they serve.
“It starts with more dialogue… real dialogue…heartfelt dialogue,” said Mr. Aziz.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™