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Legislator Solages: Testimony Shows Lack of Urgency in Addressing Racial Disparities in Policing, Arrests

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Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages (D – Lawrence) is urging Nassau County PD officials to address racial disparities in the arrest rates of Black and Latino residents as part of its response to New York State Executive Order 203-30, which directs municipalities throughout the State to reimagine and reinvent policing.

During the Thursday, Jan. 7 meeting of the Legislature’s Public Safety Committee, Legislator Solages pressed Nassau County Police Department Commissioner Patrick Ryder on statistics that indicated glaring disparities in arrest rates in 2017 under the administration of the previous County Executive. However, Legislator Solages argues that the Commissioner’s responses failed to meet the urgency of the situation or address the need for further exploration of the statistics to unearth and address implicit and overt bias.

“Without a doubt, Nassau County has already made important investments in the Nassau County Police Department aimed at improving how officers serve and protect the public,” Legislator Solages said. “County Executive Curran’s support of police officer body cameras and increased resources for auxiliary police and the Nassau County PAL are important steps forward that will benefit the residents of the Third Legislative District. While these are worthwhile endeavors, they must not be a substitute for the holistic, cultural changes to policing demanded by New York State.”

Legislator Solages’ full questioning of Commissioner Ryder can be viewed here (scroll to 3:23:00 in the video in the hyperlink). The statistics from 2017 reveal that the number of Black individuals arrested (5,183) was nearly equal to whites (5,311) in 2017. A similarly disproportionate pattern emerges in the number of Latino individuals (3,553) arrested in the same time period.

The same records also indicate that, despite County demographics, more Black individuals (1,916) were arrested by Nassau County PD on felony charges than whites (1,281) and that Latino individuals (1,070) experienced a similarly disproportionate rate of felony charges when compared to population share.

“Even though Black and Latino residents form just a fraction of Nassau County’s population, statistics from 2017 clearly show that the Nassau County Police Department arrested Black and Latino people at a disproportionately higher rate,” Legislator Solages said. “The Commissioner’s response to these alarming statistics illuminates a critical flaw in the State’s police reform mandate – namely, that it is problematic for any entity, let alone a police department, to be self-policing. Unless there is a dramatic improvement in the department’s responsiveness on this critical issue, I have reached the conclusion that outside oversight of Nassau County’s police reform process may be necessary in order to ensure full compliance with the executive order.”


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