Tag Archives: Broken Windows Policy

Governor Charlie Baker’s proposal will do harm to the poor and communities of color

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Keep it real – and fair

By Gordon Davis

Disparate Impact is when a so called neutral policy has a more severe negative impact on one protected class than on other protected classes.

A local columnist wrote about Charlie Baker’s support for a change in the law that would change the penalties for assault and battery on a police officer to mandatory jail time.

This policy disparately impacts poor communities and communities of people with dark skin.

Poor people have more interactions with the police because we walk, take the bus and drive early model cars. Each interaction such as fitting the description, broken tail lights, and stop and frisk increases the likelihood of a bad outcome.

I have personal experience with these pretexts. In the 1970s I was walking home on Austin Street and a police officer, James Reardon, arrested me for walking without an ID. He charged me with being disorderly and rudeness.

The judge dismissed the case.

Another time at a demonstration a person pushed a woman protester and I got between them. The person then attacked me. I was struck in the back of the head by a police officer whom I never saw. He then charged me with assault and battery on a police officer. The police officer chose to protect the bully and cover up his battery on me with a pretext.

Again, when I told my story in court the judge dismissed the case.

The worst experience of pretext was when I was arrested at another demonstration. The police officer was out of shape. I heard the order from the sergeant to arrest “anyone.” The big cop arrested me for no apparent reason other than I was nearby. When in the police station the cops threw me on the floor and used a choke stick until I nearly blacked out. I was relieved when someone yelled out: “Stop it! He had enough!”

This case was also dismissed.

The city government of Worcester has used pretext to enforce a racist disparately negative policy. For years, and even today, the gang unit has a policy of stop and frisk without probable cause or even reasonable suspicion. Sometimes “fitting the description” is the pretext. Most of the time no explanation is given.

An example of this was when the Worcester Youth Center was located in Federal Square.

The alcove in front of the store-front was private property. The Youth Center kids would gather in the alcove and smoke and talk. The police did not have authority over smoking on private property. Authority or not, the police continually ordered the kids to go inside. When the Youth Center director complained, the police arrested him for assault and battery on a police officer. This case was like the other pretexts.

Governor Charlie Baker’s proposal will do harm to the poor and people of color communities.

It will contribute to racist mass incarceration.

The drug abuse laws have been written with a disparately negative impact on the poor and communities of color.

These laws creating mandatory prison sentences for assault and battery on police officers will be unfairly enforced and have an unfair impact.

Worcester Police Chief Sargent has stated that his policy for policing is the “Broken Windows.” This policy needs to be explained to our communities. Will it increase the negative interactions between the residents of Worcester and the police?

There is need in Worcester for a real discussion about race and police policy. City Council, city manager and our WPD should be transparent with the residents of Worcester.

What does the police policy of Broken Windows mean for Worcester?

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A civilian review board for the Worcester Police Department!

By Gordon Davis

What does the police policy of Broken Windows mean for Worcester?

We will certainly soon find out.

Recently the new Worcester Chief of Police, Steven Sargent, and Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus were interviewed by a local paper. During the interview, Chief Sargent revealed that he will police Worcester based on the Broken Window Theory. This was somewhat of a surprise.

The Chief had not, to my knowledge, revealed to the public his thinking on criminology, race or body cameras on police officers.

The Broken Window Theory has several parts: one component is the cleaning up of the physical environment, which lets people see that an area is cared for and surveilled. Another part of the Broken Windows Theory has been called Zero Tolerance. A third part has been the removal of “undesirables.”

The removing of “undesirables” has been in effect in Worcester for more than a decade. The so called “aggressive” panhandling ordinances of the City of Worcester are examples of this. The Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled that Worcester’s ordinances on panhandlers are unconstitutional. In some instances, this practice has been the intentional precursor of gentrification.

One can only wonder what Chief Sargent and his boss, City Manager Ed Augustus have planned for these people. Whatever it is, the public should know.

City Manager Augustus, after being ruled against by the Supreme Court, spoke from his bully pulpit demanding that the residents of Worcester give money to charity and not to panhandlers.

Zero Tolerance is the practice of arresting people for minor or non-existent violations such as “disorderly.” Many statutes regarding “disorderly” or disturbing the peace are vague and give the police arbitrary and discretionary powers. This practice eventually evolved into New York City’s infamous Stop, Question and Frisk policy.

There is evidence that the Stop, Question and Frisk practices of the New York Police Department were racial profiling and violated the Fourth Amendment. The police stopped hundreds of thousands of law abiding New Yorkers annually – the vast majority Black and Latino.

I would like Chief Sargent to say there will be no Stop, Question and Frisk policy in Worcester.

I actually agree with the first part of the Broken Windows Theory. Property owners should be made to maintain their properties. In a 2005 Harvard University Study conducted in the “hot spots” of Lowell, Mass, it was determined that improving the physical environment, such as the better enforcement of building codes, is the most effective part of the Broken Windows Theory. It was also the least unlawful.

Almost all of what the Worcester Police Department does in the city is secretive: statistics, reports and records of police misconduct are impossible to get. Police Chief Sargent and City Manager Augustus have a duty to meet with the residents of this city to explain what is in their Broken Windows Policy. A discussion of how Broken Windows will affect the Black and Latino communities and other residents of Worcester is needed.

This should be a REAL discussion: It would be helpful (but unlikely) if the gang of three Worcester City Councilors – Michael Gaffney, Konnie Lukes and Gary Rosen – were excluded.