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100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care

Spruill Death Another Isolated Accident?

No incident personifies the subconscious impact that former Mayor Giuliani has left on Black New Yorkers than the death of Mrs. Alberta Spruill.  Our community praise for the Mayor and Police Commissioner following the NYC Police Departments' report, was ill informed.

In far too many circles within the community of color, leaders pointed to the posture of City Hall as the reason for giving the Mayor high accolades.  One well known elected official said, "how nice the Mayor spoke in comparison to Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor."  

Without realizing it, we fail to see the mistake of judging Mayor Bloomberg on his actions and not attempting to use the draconian behavior of Mayor Guilisni as a standard.  There should never come a time that the mere fact an elected official speaks nice to us that we use that as a barometer for progress.  In order to properly understand the tragedy of our response, one must analyise the totality of the incident.  In contrast to what the Police Commissioner attempted to portray in his 24-page report, the Ms. Spruill's death was not an isolated incident.  In fact he pointed out all that went wrong on the day of her death, except his role.  

Commissioner Kelly's role in the tragic death of Mrs. Spruill started long before the raid on her apartment.   It goes back to March 2002  when police officers from Narcotic Unit entered the home of Mrs. Flornell and held her entire family by gunpoint for three hours.  The house was torn apart and no drugs were located.  One month later Police Commissioner Kelly met with the Queens' local NAACP branch and residents from the Far Rockaway community.  He informed them that he was going to have a study done to ensure this does not take place again.  

No indication of a study was revealed.  During October 15th of the same year the police forced their way into the home of Mr. Robert (retired police officer) and Mary Rogers (retired captain from NYC Department of Correction).  Mr. Rogers hearing the banging sound at his door drew his authorized gun and moved to use it to defend himself.  When the doors opened he noticed that it was police officers and immediately place the gun under him to avoid being shot.

Mr. Rogers spoke with the Police commissioner during a community meeting and was told by the commissioner that he would look into the situation and take steps to ensure that there were no re-occurrences.  NYPD spokesperson Mr. O'Looney is quoted in one of the newspapers stating, "that there will be a comprehensive report done to ensure there will be no re-occurrence of his type of mistakes."  Mr.  O'Looney's comments were an indication that no study was conducted after the March incident.   

On October 23rd, eight days after the incident at Mr. Roberts home, the Chief of Patrol produced a memo to the Patrol Service Bureau and to the Special Operations Division.  Although this memo addressed immediate concerns it failed short of being a comprehensive study into search warrants execution.  Cleary eight days is not enough time to conduct a detail study into how the police department conducts search warrants.  

In addition, the memo that was sent out by the Chief of Patrol did not have the power of a department procedure which impact on the entire police department. The memo did not address how OCCB or the Detective Bureau continued to conduct search warrants.  

Less than one month after the Chief of Patrol memo the police forced their way into the home of Mrs. Mack and her two 13-year-old sons.   Mrs. Mack was pulled from her bed topless.  Her two sons were forced from under their beds, where they ran and hid after hearing the loud bang and seeing a flash (possible stun grenade).  The officers ransacked the house and did not find any drugs at the location.  

During the month of January 2003, police officers forced their way into the home of an off duty police officer.  He was forced to the floor by gunpoint as his wife and children looked on in horror.  The officers made a mistake.  They stated, " they were looking for a male white who was climbing on the outside terrace."  The officer whose home was invaded was an African-American.

These cases are only some of the incidents that were documented by the New York City Police Department.  Wrong door search warrants are not new to this department. There are other cases under the previous administration where an off duty police officer discharged his gun and was almost killed.  Another case involved a mother being pulled out of her apartment nude in front of her neighbors, only to find out that it was the wrong apartment.  

The lack of desire to institute true reform caused Civil Rights attorney Norman Siegel and members of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement to hold a press conference on November 19th to announced that a notice of claim was filed with the city for a law suit based on Mr. Roger's incident.  At that press conference Mr. Seigel stated that if something was not done to conduct a proper review of search warrant procedures, someone will lose their life.  The Police Department continued business as usual in spite of their empty promises.  Mrs. Spruill turned out to be the person Mr. Siegel's predictions came true on.  

After reviewing these police department's actions you could see why it was insulting for our community leaders to be satisfied with a verbal "sorry" and an  inadequate 24-page police department report. 

It is imperative that we begin to take a hard look at what is coming from City Hall and the agencies that are a part of this administration.  Nice tone that is absent of nice substance will leave us with the same results that Giuliani's abrasive tone left us.    Hidden behind City Halls pleasant speech are too many of  the same Giuliani hand pick commissioners and therefore we will have the same form of policies.  

A call for reform in the Police Department must not be met with "I am sorry."  It is imperative that the agencies release information that shows exactly what are the problems.  To date the Police Commissioner has yet to show what the ethnic breakdown is of where warrants were executed and where stun grenades are used.  Instead of answering the direct questions, the Mayor parades around the city with his one African-American Deputy Mayor and talk nice, with no results.  By the way, in case you did not notice, the abrasive talking Giuliani also only had one African-American Deputy Mayor.

Eric Adams

Co-Founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care


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