Responds to Manor officials on police: Still no timeline for plan or community input; ‘racist policing’ since 2015

To the editor:

My name is Justin O’Beirne. I have been a resident of Pelham Manor my entire life and as of June 2020, I am also an alumnus of Pelham Memorial High School. I am disheartened that I must write this letter about the government of the village in which I was raised and call home. I am a registered Democrat, and also the cofounder and former co-president of the Young Democrats Club at PMHS. I do not add this fact as a disclaimer for potential bias, but to emphasize the apolitical nature of the situation about which I am writing, as Stephen Tahbaz, my fellow classmate, member of an opposing political party, and former vice president of the opposing political club at PMHS wrote in a letter to the Pelham Examiner on August 19, linked here. Tahbaz’s letter brings public attention to the Pelham Manor Police Department’s recent history of racist incidents and lack of transparency by the elected officials of Pelham Manor in regards to compliance with Executive Order 203: New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, which which was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on June 12.

Today, on August 20, Pelham Manor Mayor Jennifer Monachino Lapey, Deputy Mayor Louis Annunziata and Police Chief Jeff Carpenter wrote a letter to the Pelham Examiner, linked here, responding to the earlier article written by Tahbaz. The three officials began their article by expressing their shock that the Pelham Examiner would publish something which they claim to be inaccurate, yet fail to show where the inaccuracies of the piece written by Tahbaz lie. The officials continued by stating that some of the racist incidents referenced to by Tahbaz happened in 2015. While not a denial of Tahbaz’s claim, the implication was that this incident was not recent enough to be relevant. These specific incidents happened only five years ago, which I consider to be a very short amount of time, especially when dealing with such important issues. Additionally, while this incident happened to be reported, I have heard of countless other incidents first-hand involving racist policing in Pelham Manor since 2015. The three officials stated that they have worked on identifying and addressing these claims, and I wholeheartedly believe them when they say this, but that does not mean that the problem has disappeared. The three officials did not say what steps the village has taken since 2015 to fix these problems or the steps that will be taken to fix these problems.

The three officials continue to write that they have until April 1 to submit a plan to the state government to address many topics of community policing in order to be in compliance with Executive Order 203. This is an undeniable fact that the village government has seven more months to submit a plan, however on July 28, more than 30 Pelham Manor residents asked Lapey to provide an approximate timeline and details of when and how the plan will be created, and insisted that input should be taken from community members. The mayor responded by saying she and the board of trustees take all village matters seriously, but failed to mention a timeline, details of how the plan for the state would be created and if community input or public comments would be allowed before submission to the state. It should be noted that this lack of transparency applies only to Pelham Manor, as Mayor Chance Mullen of the Village of Pelham has publicly taken steps to actively comply with Executive Order 203 and better the policing in the Village of Pelham.

Justin O’Beirne

10 Westward Lane