Assemb. Phil Ramos called Sunday for Nassau and Suffolk counties to each create a “criminal justice task force” to address tensions between police and communities of color.
“Difficult discussions must be had face-to-face and we can’t throw grenades at each other,” Ramos (D-Brentwood) told congregants of the St. Mark Remnant Ministries in Central Islip. Ramos was joined by six Latino or black elected officials, who he said supported his call for a task force, after the morning sermon by Pastor Roderick A. Pearson at the Student Activities Center at the New York Institute of Technology campus.
Ramos, a former 20-year Suffolk County Police Department member who has represented the Central Islip and Brentwood area since 2002, said the permanent task forces would include black and Latino community members, police officials and police union officials. The task forces would develop recommendations and “best practices” for the county police departments.
“We want to create this mechanism to start talking to each other and finding solutions to deal with this situation, before these tragedies start to happen here,” he said.
Representatives of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano didn’t respond to requests for comments.
The elected officials joining Ramos were Assemb. Michaelle C. Solages (D-Elmont), Suffolk Legis. William Spencer (D-Centerport), Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards, Babylon Councilwoman Jacqueline Gordon and Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie M. Cartright.
Spencer, who represents much of Huntington Town, said, “we can acknowledge the structural problems with law enforcement and still support them.”
Gordon said Suffolk police meet with residents in Babylon regularly to address concerns and foster a good relationship. But nationally, she said, “There’s something happening with the preponderance of young black men being gunned down and police officers are not found responsible for that.”