Defenders Association Offers Concrete Plans for Healing Police/Community Rifts in NYC

At Legislative Hearing, Executive Director Suggests Using Floyd and POPPA

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ALBANY, NY (03/12/2015)(readMedia)-- Jonathan E. Gradess, Executive Director of the New York State Defenders Association (NYSDA), suggested on Thursday that state legislators in New York City take action to improve police/community relations in their districts.

A unique opportunity exists for addressing the publicly-exposed rifts between police and communities of color, particularly black communities, Gradess said. He urged legislators from New York City to take advantage of processes established by a recent lawsuit regarding the Police Department's stop and frisk policies.

Speaking at a hearing before the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus and the Assembly Standing Committees on Codes and the Judiciary, Gradess pointed to conditions of the recent opinion and order in Floyd v City of New York. Floyd establishes a Joint Remedial Process that "opens a window of possibility through which the Assembly and the Caucus can help to shine light," Gradess noted. Legislators could help bring to Town Hall meetings held by the Floyd Monitor diverse local stakeholders with skills and knowledge needed to effect change.

The many suggestions in Gradess's written and spoken testimony (at mark 6:14 to 6:52) included using the skilled and experienced officers in the Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance (POPPA). POPPA personnel, who offer peer-to-peer help for officers dealing with job-related trauma and stress, could help build similar model programs for children and adults traumatized by community gun deaths and violence.

NYSDA's mission is to improve the quality and scope of publicly supported legal representation to low income people. Among the many ways it works to fulfill that mission is employment of a Restorative Practitioner and encouraging the incorporation of restorative practices in public defense representation and in the justice system as a whole.