Suffolk County and Department of Justice Reach Settlement Over Discriminatory Policing

The Suffolk County Police Department has reached a settlement over past discriminatory policing practices.
The Suffolk County Police Department has reached a settlement over past discriminatory policing practices.

The United States Department of Justice and Suffolk County have reached a tentative agreement designed to address the discriminatory policing practices that contributed to the 2008 killing of Marcelo Lucero. The agreement needs to be ratified by the Suffolk Legislature before it can go into effect.

The agreement provides for extensive Federal monitoring of Suffolk County Police Department’s practices over the next three years. In order to provide oversight, the Suffolk Police will have to gather detailed data on traffic stops, hate crimes, and other racially sensitive policing issues. The data will be used to uncover police biases.

Hate crime data will also be mapped to determine if any trends in bias crimes indicate patterns of community conflict. In addition, the Justice Department says it will be looking at whether possible hate crimes are downgraded by the police department or “undercharged” as they were during Steve Levy’s administration.

The agreement also mandates a high level of language access for Spanish speaking Suffolk residents. The practical effects of its implementation should lead to many new hires of bilingual police officers.

Perhaps most importantly, the agreement requires the police to meet regularly with both the leaders of the Latino community and with grassroots community groups as well. It creates review boards that will monitor implementation and orders community satisfaction surveys to determine how the police are doing in reaching out to immigrants.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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