Long Island Advocates Form Coalition to End Biased and Abusive Policing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Christiaan Perez, (212) 739-7581, cperez@latinojustice.org

Amol Sinha, (609) 638-9913, asinha@nyclu.org

Dozens of community members and leaders gathered in front of the New York State Supreme Court in Central Islip today to announce the launch of Long Island United for Police Reform (LIPR), an unprecedented coalition seeking to end bias-based police practices in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. Comprised of advocacy organizations, lawyers, community organizers, and families who have been victimized by police misconduct, LIPR will call for accountability, oversight, and transparency in Long Island’s police departments.

LIPR emerges during a nationwide conversation about bias-based policing and police accountability, in response to the recent spate of police killings of unarmed black men across the country, including the deaths of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, and Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland. However, the coalition is also forming when there are multiple instances of police misconduct on Long Island coming to light.

One such incident involves Suffolk County Police Department Sergeant Scott Greene, a 25 year veteran of the force, who was arrested in January after it was disclosed that he had been targeting Latino drivers and stealing money from them. This “stop and rob” scheme had been occurring for 10 years, and dozens of additional victims have stepped forward since Sgt. Greene’s arrest, alleging that many other officers were involved in the bias-based crimes and that it was a pervasive problem that the County should have known about

Today, in addition to announcing the coalition, LIPR partners gathered outside of a hearing for Sgt. Greene to call for a thorough investigation and accountability for all the officers who victimized innocent Suffolk County residents in this scheme. . Until an independent investigation is conducted into this wider pattern of abuse, no plea bargain deal should be offered to Sgt. Greene.

Long Island has had a history of eroding trust between communities of color and law enforcement. From brutality to illegal stops to indifference towards minorities, there have been systemic injustices in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. LIPR is committed to building power and leadership with Long Islanders directly affected by discriminatory policing and police violence. Through policy reforms, community organizing, direct actions, and elevating the voices of those directly impacted by police abuse, LIPR will work to eliminate discriminatory policing and ensure that law enforcement agencies treat all communities with the respect, responsiveness, and dignity they deserve.

A wide range of coalition members turned out to show their support for police reform on Long Island. “Latinos and blacks across Suffolk County are entitled to have a police force that works for them, not against them. LIPR is being created to ensure we achieve that goal and bring an end to discriminatory policing across all of Long Island.” Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

Javier H. Valdés, co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, said, “We are proud to stand with our partners across Long Island to say enough is enough: abusive and discriminatory policing on Long Island must stop immediately. Several of our members were victims of Sergeant Greene’s heinous abuse, but the need for police reform goes much further and spans both counties. Long Islanders are joining together today to demand police reform that protects our communities instead of leaving us in fear of the very authorities that are meant to protect us.”

"Our community has endured unjust targeting for years now, and this is why our members have stood up to support LIPR. We understand as an organization that fights for the individual and community development of the Latina immigrant women that we must also focus on the Latino immigrant family they represent. It's time to demand accountability and a police reform to end police cover up and corruption!" Dulce Rojas Organizer for SEPA Mujer

“Long Island, like so many other communities across the nation, needs to address the significant erosion of trust between members of the community and law enforcement. This coalition is a more than a commitment to collaboration with community stakeholders, but also a movement to transform the landscape of policing in Long Island to a system that is more just and fair for all residents." Jason Starr, Nassau County Chapter Director for New York Civil Liberties Union

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