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Letter: Discrimination in Suffolk police force

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini and Det.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini and Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer give details at a news conference about the arrest of Denis D. Cullen Jr. in the death of his mother at their Lloyd Harbor home on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The editorial board’s “Suffolk top cop learns a lesson” [Aug. 18] pointed out that the Suffolk County Police Department shepherds favored friends and relatives onto the force. Unfortunately, that is only part of the problem.

In the nearly four years that James Burke was chief of department, friends, drinking buddies and anyone who pledged allegiance to Burke received high-ranking and coveted positions. . At the same time, minority officers, especially African-Americans, were placed on prominent committees or assignments to create the illusion of diversity in the department.

In this period, several detectives were transferred into coveted specialized units. None were African-American. When they questioned this treatment, those officers’ reputations were maligned.

These concerns were brought to the attention of then-Police Commissioner Edward Webber, Deputy Commissioner Risco Mention-Lewis and Burke on April 3, 2014. Nothing changed. Two subsequent meetings on this topic, involving County Executive Steve Bellone and members of his staff in December 2014, also proved fruitless.

The indignation resulting from this dismissive treatment and the resulting lack of trust it generated make the job of Police Commissioner Timothy Sini that much more difficult. He must address these issues immediately and aggressively. The destruction will take many years to repair.

Jeffrey Walker, Smithtown

Editor’s note: The writer is a detective sergeant in the Suffolk County Police Department and is the first vice president of the Suffolk County Guardians, a fraternal organization of officers of color.

Correction: The second paragraph of this letter has been corrected to explain the writer's point about African-Americans and the appearance of diversity. Because of an editor's error, an earlier version misstated the point.