Thursday, April 12, 2007

Yonkers City Council Majority Leader McDow’s Proposal To Strengthen Civilian Police Complaint Review Board Long Overdue Many Outstanding Cases of Police Brutality Still Unresolved

Yonkers City Council Majority Leader Patricia McDow last week called for a renewed effort by that body to move her long-standing legislative proposal to expand the City’s Civilian Police Complaint Review Board out of committee and up for a vote.

The proposal would expand the present seven-member board, consisting mostly of Yonkers Police officials, to thirteen members.

Seven members would be chosen, one each, by each of the seven City Council members, four would be appointed by the Mayor, and two by the Police Commissioner.

The Westchester Guardian, in a cover story on September 21, 2006, headlined, “Mother 72, Daughter 49,
Charge Yonkers Police Brutality,” set in motion a series of events which began with a Public “Speak-Out” session sponsored by the Yonkers Chapter of the NAACP under President Karen Edmonson, and Chapter Attorney Michael Sussman, at the Riverfront Library, two days later, and the resignation of then-Yonkers Police Commissioner Robert Taggart, four days after that. Scores of citizens rose to their feet, many of them middle-aged, to describe beatings and brutality meted out by Yonkers Police Officers in recent years.

Also present at the gathering, which went on for more than three hours, and drew more than 100 persons, were Civil Rights Activists Attorneys Debra Cohen and Randolph McLaughlin, accompanied by several Pace University Law School students who interviewed complainants many of whom had never previously come forward publicly. Last week Cohen appeared on Cablevision NEWS12 to lend support to McDow’s renewed call for the passage of her proposed legislation.

McDow told The Guardian, “We must encourage citizens to come forward, who are intimidated and unwilling
to under the present system.” She explained that with an expanded Review Board, one that was more representative of, and sensitive to, the community, incidents involving mishandling, and possible brutality by police will be more likely to be fairly and promptly dealt with.There are currently numerous unresolved cases involving allegations of Yonkers Police brutality.

One particularly disturbing case, previously widely reported, involves a number of Yonkers Police Officers who are alleged to have beaten a civilian to within an inch of his life, in a location outside of Yonkers.

McDow’s proposal is comprehensive and well thought out, and perhaps will pick up co-sponsorship by Council President Chuck Lesnick.

Tina Bostwick, who together with her daughter Mary, were the victims of Yonkers Police brutality, reported by The Guardian back in September, when asked about her feelings regarding the failure of the City Council to move forward with McDow’s proposed legislation, remarked.

“I am horriffied by the delay given that my daughter and I have endured two years of hell, mentally and physically, because no one in Yonkers City government has been willing to rectify what was done to us simply because we came to the aid of two young boys, and called for the police.”

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