CLICK HERE TO REPORT LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRUPTION (Provide as much information as possible: full names, descriptions, dates, times, activity, witnesses, etc.)

Telephone: 347-632-9775

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Black officers vow change in wake of friendly-fire death

Black officers vow change in wake of Ridley's death
The Journal News by Terence Corcoran - March 1, 2008

MOUNT VERNON - As he struggled to break up an assault Jan. 25 in downtown White Plains, Mount Vernon Police Officer Christopher Ridley might have let one thing slip his mind: the color of his skin.

Ridley, 23, was off duty and in civilian clothes when he was killed that day by Westchester County police while trying to arrest homeless convict Anthony Jacobs. At a gathering last night of the Westchester chapter of the National Black Police Association, retired New York City officer Charles Billups said that Ridley probably never thought he would be mistaken for a suspect.

"The saddest thing about this shooting is that I think the brother forgot that he was black," Billups said. Billups said he attended the funeral of Ridley, who was posthumously promoted to detective, and thought of how many other black officers were shot because they were misidentified.

"We need to do something," Billups said. Damon K. Jones, executive director of the Westchester chapter of the NBPA and a county corrections officer, said several things need to be done.

First, Westchester County must never forget the tragedy of Ridley's death and learn from it, he said. Law enforcement must work to improve its relationship with the community, and black officers can take the lead, Jones said. "The black law-enforcement profession can be one of the most powerful tools," he said.

But, first, he said, the makeup of Westchester police rosters must change to reflect the communities they serve. Jones noted that roughly 18 percent of the approximately 200,000 people living in Yonkers are black, yet the Yonkers Police Department is only 4 percent black.

The Mount Vernon Police Department has one of the highest percentages of black officers - roughly one in four of the department's 211 officers - but the city is 62 percent black. "Proper representation of black law-enforcement professionals is a key," Jones said. Ridley's father, Stanley Ridley, attended the meeting and graciously, though sadly, accepted a plaque honoring his son's sacrifice.

He said he gave his son to the community, adding that his son was working to turn the community around. "He thought he was a cop all the time. We should never have to go through this again," Stanley Ridley said. State Sen. Eric Adams, D-Brooklyn, a retired New York City officer, told Ridley that his son did not die in vain. "We will turn pain into purpose," Adams said. "Chris will be the rallying cry that forces law enforcement to look at itself." (

No comments: