Please forward to Sgt Bernhardt whose email I don’t have
I having been trying to reach you through intermediaries for a sit-down discussion on where a breakdown in communication occurred but keep getting told that I had to make a complete apology first as a pre-condition. That apology is not going to happen because I still haven’t been convinced that I did anything wrong, but I would like us to reach some sort of reconciliation for the sake of the public that we all serve.
Please believe that I was not trying to “attack,” antagonize or stress out a particular police officer or denigrate law enforcement in general, and I am distressed that you think so and frankly disappointed that you ran so quickly to the press. Rather, as I feel I’m entitled to, I was asking the tough questions that members of the public have raised with me. For example, I think I said Sgt. Bernhardt seems like a nice man, with common sense, but the written notes created by him and his subordinates could be distributed to, and/or misinterpreted by, less benign persons or organizations, so I asked questions about that and related issues of interests of the diverse community of New Rochelle.
Just as much as you apparently feel it was unfair that I violated some unclear guidelines of the schools committee, by the same token I feel it was unfair for you to automatically peg me as anti-law enforcement and say I should be thrown off a legislative committee when you don’t know me and, in the case of PBA President Hagan (and Chairman Boykin), you weren’t even at the meeting or apparently in contact with any other civilians who were.
I am not anti-law enforcement. My brother has had a distinguished, 30-year career at the Department of Justice in Washington.I have a favorite cousin in the Secret Service close to 20 years who was on the security detail for a virulently anti-gay candidate in the 2016 primary season. My cousin is man married to another man, but he would have taken a bullet for that candidate, something most of us wouldn’t understand about the special code of law enforcement professionals: Duty to others above self.
Another cousin was an NYPD Detective in the South Bronx of the bad old days of the 1970s and 1980s at the precinct known then as known “Fort Apache,” and I have a lot of respect for what he bravely faced every day in a dangerous environment. I also had an aunt, a nun who, just as valiantly or even more so, served the public as a community health nurse in that same territory in the same era:
If you come to my County office, you will see prominently displayed a framed front page of the White Plains Reporter Dispatch issue of July 11, 1964, recounting my Dad’s successfully thwarting an attempted bank robbery at the tiny branch office in Valhalla that he managed. Next to that on my office wall is the letter of commendation he received from the Mount Pleasant Police Dept. My most memorable personal experience with the police was after I had been hit by a car which slid across two lanes and off onto the bank of a stream where I was running and I was knocked twenty feet further into the woods and down the embankment. Later, the police officer who had responded to the incident came by to see how I was doing and, still a little loopy from the major first dose of pain medication, I said “just dandy but I can’t do my crossword puzzle here without my glasses.” The officer, who had been smiling, changed to a concerned, quizzical look, and left. About an hour later, he came back with my glasses. He had gone back and scoured the bushes and vines along the river bank which,I learned, the hard way as I was getting ready to leave the hospital three days later, was totally infested with poison ivy. What a great, caring public servant!
My parents and the nuns and priests at St. Anthony’s School and Stepinac High School taught me respect for law and those who enforce it, but also sticking up for myself against those who try to push me around and not backing down on matters of principle. I’m only sorry that the folks didn’t live quite long enough to see me go into public service where we try to make sure existing laws are enforced fairly and create new laws in the hope of making people’s lives better.
Like my Dad, I can exhibit a bit of a temper and get extremely angry when I feel like someone is saying that I am unfair…..Did I mention he was Irish?
When and where would you like to meet and talk about how we can lower the volume on this matter and explore how we can work toward our common goals? And later, with proper preparation on both sides, let’s talk the pros and cons of SROs.
Leigislator Damon Maher