Capital Region

Letters to the Editor Monday, April 26

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Change who we let in law enforcement

I heard the news of Derek Chauvin’s conviction on all three counts against him.
But what I was hearing was that this is only the beginning of the changes needed to make our country’s police officers act in a more civilized way toward the Black and Brown American population.
I’ve been thinking about this for some time and have reached at least one conclusion.
Consider the term “law enforcement.” The important word in the phrase is “enforcement.”
The core of that word is “force.”
My sense is that as things stand now, the kind of person who is most likely to be attracted to police work is one whose world view centers around the use of force to solve problems; who sees the use of force as appropriate in many, if not all, situations.
The implications of this are many, but among them is this: Until we can attract to our police forces people who see force as a last resort rather than the usual, the problem will not end.
Everyone is talking about better training. But all the training in the world will not change people’s basic mindset. All the training in the world will not turn a carnivore into an herbivore. The fox is never going to become a rabbit, nor will the rabbit become a fox.
Until we do a much better job of attracting the right kind of people to police work, we will never be able to avoid with consistency killings like that of George Floyd.
David D. Furman, Jr.
Niskayuna

Cuomo must take real steps on climate

Gov. Andrew Cuomo claims that he is a “climate leader.” Yet, Cuomo has approved 16 times as much new utility-scale gas capacity as new wind and solar, which currently only makes up 5% of New York’s energy generation.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) Cuomo appoints still has no real plan to get the state off of gas, or to force utilities to comply with the climate law, which requires New York to get to 70% renewable energy by 2030. In fact, the PSC has made it harder for clean renewables to take off by passing complex policies that devalue renewables while shelling out billions of our dollars in subsidies for fracked gas and nuclear energy.
And now, they are hearing another proposal from National Grid to raise our rates to pay for increased profits and more gas infrastructure.
While Cuomo did ban fracking in New York, he’s ensuring that our state will be reliant on importing fracked gas from other states for decades to come. There is also a well-documented revolving door between the Cuomo administration and fossil fuel — companies like Williams and National Grid.
It’s time for Gov. Cuomo to “walk the talk” on climate. He should reject National Grid’s rate hike proposal and all new fossil fuel infrastructure, because fancy rhetoric alone isn’t going to save our planet.
Robert Connors
Canaan

 

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Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion

24 Comments

FRED BARNEY

It should be noted that if the state closed down because everyone moved to the cemetery their would be no measurable effect on the worlds climate. Local efforts are nothing but posturing efforts that lower local living standards.

FRED BARNEY

To improve policing I suggest that families of addicts be investigated for what role they played in facilitating illegal drug use. This simple change would be of significant aid to stamping out the problems that we face as a result of illegal drug use

LOUIS RESTIFO

Mr Furman, I agree with your prospective in regards to what type of personality characteristics in certain individual may make law enforcement attractive to them:
“the kind of person who is most likely to be attracted to police work is one whose world view centers around the use of force to solve problems; who sees the use of force as appropriate in many, if not all, situations.” Obviously not all but plenty of cops have this attitude.

Some people have specific and sometimes devious reasons for taking on certain professions or voluntary positions. Perfect examples of which are “celibate” priests and Boys Scout leaders.

To be clear I’m not implying ALL cops are power hungry, tough guys, or bullies, but sure as hell plenty are.

Again, Mr Furman, As you said:
“Until we do a much better job of attracting the right kind of people to police work, we will never be able to avoid with consistency killings like that of George Floyd.” ~~I agree, change is most assuredly needed.

RAYMOND HARRIS

Good points. Perhaps what we need is a national standardized test that might unveil certain biases towards other people. Psychologists could have a field day devising such a tool to weed out potentially overly aggressive and racist cops. And as I’ve said before, such testing should occur every several years since cops may develop biases while in the position. Also, the first step should be to hire police chiefs and commissioners that are good leaders and establish and maintain an appropriate tone at the top.

Police do use force disproportionately in interactions with black and brown folks as opposed to white folks. You need to look no further than the discrepancies when known heavily armed murderers like Robert Aaron Long, Dylann Roof and James Holmes are peacefully taken into custody , and sometimes taken to the drive-thru for a meal, while innocent black folks with minor infractions like Philando Castile and George Floyd are murdered at the hands of law enforcement. But police DO use excessive and sometimes deadly force on white people too. Today there was video from Vacaville, CA where an officer assaulted an autistic TEEN, and recently a man with a learning disability was dragged out of his car by the officer, tased, and beaten. And let’s not forget the murder of Daniel Shaver in Mesa, AZ. Give a man a hammer and everything looks like a nail. Well give a cop a gun, a taser, and a baton, and every problem looks like it can be solved with physical, and many times deadly, force.

Spot on, Matt.
A point I tried to make recently was that racially-tinged law enforcement was just a subset of a larger law enforcement problem. And to expand on the letter writer’s point, I think finding the right people is only part of the problem. It doesn’t address the “systemic” in systemic racism which points to the enablers already on the force, the ones who are doing it the way their fathers did it, screening and then hiring on those criteria. And then rewarding and promoting based on those now-antiquated criteria.

Are you willing to go out there and bust some heads? You’re one of us, welcome!

This is the essence though of “defund the police”. It most certainly IS a pro-police idea in that it frees the police up from having to be Jacks-of-all-trades and focusing on ‘serving and protecting’ the community, rather than flailing around feeling like they need to intimidate every one and then being thrust into a situation best handled by a trained crisis professional.

LOUIS RESTIFO

The Gazette is now running a four-day series about the 20 year influx of Guyanese people coming to Schenectady and what a positive effect they’ve had on the city.

We are so fortunate as a nation to have had so many wonderful diverse cultural influences. The arts, food, architectural/engineering design, medicine and science to name a few. When you think about, pretty much everything. That’s a huge aspect of why America has thrived. Actually, that is America.

To be complacent and think America is just fine the way it is, is a big mistake. Our doors should be opened wider.
It’s sad when people like Fred believe only disease carrying, drug selling welfare recipients are entering.

The vast majority of people wanting to enter are humble, family loving, compassionate, hard working and honest. They just want opportunity. They have nothing…. “Necessity is the mother of invention.” They will eventually strengthen our country.

I’m so proud to be the son of a poor, uneducated Sicilian shoemaker who left his home country at 17 years old. Alone and apprehensive of the unknown, this very young man came to America for one reason, opportunity.

Consider that our world is a much smaller, more competitive place. To stay on top, we as a nation need to be on the cutting edge of science and technology. Bring in the brains and backs of other nations with open arms. Additionally make higher education more attainable to those that are already here so we may also achieve those goals from within.

Thank God trump is gone and we now have a reasonable, open minded, compassionate leader!

William Marincic

Lou, and look who did it, a conservative Republican Mayor who had the foresight to find a way to increase the tax base while fixing dilapidated buildings. You may thank Mayor Al Jurczinski on here, I’m quite sure he will see it, I’ll call him and make sure he does

What are you, his cousin?
I applaud Mr. Jurczinski for what he’s done for Schenectady. There are many local Republicans who have really been pillars of the community across the Capital District.

See how easy that is Marincic? Me, a dyed-in-the-wool Progressive and sometime Democrat, giving credit where credit’s due.
How about you? Certainly there are Liberal Democrats you could single out for their contributions, seeing as you’re a fair-minded person, open to everyone’s ideas.

William Marincic

I have singled out Angelo Santabarbara more than once, I personally thanked him on here for the support he has given an organization that I’m part of. I have also given Gary McCarthy credit when he has done the right thing and when he hasn’t I told him to his face what I thought, I have actually paid and played in one of McCarthy’s golf fundraisers as a police friend asked me to play. I will bash a republican that doesn’t live up to the standards that he should just like I will a democrat.

Bill’s a team player Chuck. Anytime he can mark one down for the red team he does, and then tries to use that as some sort of bellwether for the overall ‘greatness’ of Republicans. I agree that Mayor Jurczynski welcoming the Guyanese population was a positive move for the city. But for Bill to say that on the one hand, and then in the same breath praise the anti-immigrant (both legal and illegal) stance of the former president, is completely ridiculous and nonsensical. I’m pretty sure if it had been Mayor Trump instead of Mayor Al, he’d have gone on about how the Guyanese are coming here to take our jobs and mooch off the system.

There are no talking points in the Republican Big Book of Ideas to address cross-party appreciation, therefore they have no idea how it would work.

(But truth be told, the Dems are pretty short on that too, but fortunately, thanks to people like Bernie Sanders, we’re open to and welcome it)

William Marincic

Matt, there is quite a difference between legal immigration and illegal immigration. I’m 100% for legal immigration and immigrants, just as our former President Trump was. If you have never watched “immigration by gumballs” you should google it, very eye-opening, even for me. President Trump was able to manage the illegal immigration problem on the border which Biden has completely destroyed and he now has a huge humanitarian mess of his own making. Finally, if you believe illegal immigration is a good thing when we can’t know their criminal or health status please explain yourself.

LOUIS RESTIFO

That’s right Matt, and he’s also a team player, like so many of today’s republicans, that love the advantage of being on the high side of the playing field and are most determined to never switch sides or agree to leveling the field.

Bill, Donald Trump may have said he supported legal immigration, but his actions spoke louder than his words. He banned the issuance of temporary work visas, tried to eliminate birthright citizenship, gutted the asylum system, lowered our refugee program to almost zero, abolished DACA, cancelled TPS, reduced the number of foreign students in the US, and let’s not forget the most despicable action of all – separating children from their parents, many of which still are not reunited. Those were all considered “legal” immigration based on current US law, that Donald Trump either ignored or eliminated. Of course he had no problem greasing the wheels so Melania’s parents could become naturalized citizens lol.

RAYMOND HARRIS

Jurczinski may have been a republican, perhaps a Rockefeller type wanting to help the people of Schenectady, but he was definitely not a conservative.

Mr. Furman: I agree 100% with your position of “force” in law enforcement. Some people – lately a higher percentage than in the past – who have a “force oriented personality”, are infiltrating police agencies. Some come from the military where “force” is a required personality (ask any drill sergeant about that) that is brain-washed into them for the purpose of achieving military superiority. Many of these former military people who become civilian police officers are in their comfort zone driving and riding in those huge military-style vehicles that police agencies now use. The people who aspire to become police officers to provide “public safety” to “protect and serve” seem to be fewer and fewer as the years go by. Long gone are the days of the beat cop Barney who was friends with pretty much everybody he met on his beat. And the thugs respected “who” he was.

William Aiken

If qualified immunity is removed from law enforcement there will be an exodus of police officers. This void will force the hiring standards for police to be lowered and thus allow for bad apples to skip through the cracks.

Police make on average 67k. People don’t go into a career in law enforcement to get rich. Who is going to sign up for the force if they face financial ruin for making a tough call?

William Marincic

Ron, please state your source. In 2019 there was 150 line of duty police deaths, in 2020 that number more than doubled to 360 and so far in 2021 we have 103 line of duty deaths of police officers. When you have the President and members of Congress vilifying the police then their job just became more dangerous. When the police are routinely attacked because our government officials tell protesters to be more confrontational it creates problems for the police. It’s becoming harder and harder to get police officers to join and soon there won’t be enough in many areas, we are seeing that already. These police shootings are due to people resisting arrest first and foremost, not because of racist cops. I’m friends with more than 50 and I have never, ever once heard a racist statement from any of them.

Please explains why the death rate per million of people of color at the hands of law enforcement is more than twice what it is for whites?

See, you don’t have to make racist statements to show that you think people of color are second-class humans.
(duh)

Florida2015

General Barry McCaffrey – commented on one of the cable shows the military can take a raw recruit and make them a warrior in 90 days. But it takes five years or more to train a person to be a police person.

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