March 23, 2008
Manslaughter, rape, assault. A recent spate of allegations against police officers on the outskirts of New York City has raised fears that a big-city problem has invaded the suburbs.
“You don’t want this to go on anywhere but you certainly don’t expect it in the suburbs,” said Alicia Barnes of White Plains, a mother of 2-year-old twins.
Experts agreed, however, that the suburbs are not immune.
“Law enforcement in the suburbs is only as good as the patchwork of police departments that exists in each county,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
“It takes proper oversight and accountability to ensure that the police are our friends, our protectors, and not bullies who think they are above the law.”
The cluster of cases over the past year in Westchester County may be an aberration, but even a partial list seems shocking in this relatively affluent and quiet New York City suburb:
A Mount Kisco officer was charged with manslaughter in the death of a homeless, drunken immigrant who had suffered a blow to his abdomen. The officer has resigned and is fighting the charge, but the case has raised tensions about immigration and revealed a practice of police departments “dumping” their undesirables in neighboring towns.
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