The massive protests after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City strained relationships among police departments, the neighborhoods they serve, and political leaders. Then, in late December, the assassination of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos further escalated the rhetoric and what was at stake. This week on Here’s The Thing, Alec Baldwin talks to two people with years of street experience. Both have compelling visions for improving the broken relationship between police and communities.
John Eterno is a retired captain in the NYPD who once defended “stop and frisk” policies. Today he teaches criminal justice at Molloy College and worries about how many more people were singled out for aggressive police scrutiny during the Bloomberg administration. Eterno advocates for a more individually autonomous, accountable, and, above all, transparent police force. David Kennedy is the architect of Operation Ceasefire, a community-based approach to de-escalating inner city gang violence. Over the last three decades, his work has transformed relationships between law enforcement and communities in cities across the country, including South Central Los Angeles and Boston. Now, he’s working in New York City. Kennedy believes that the influence of families, friends, and neighbors has a greater impact on lowering crime than handcuffs, firearms, and courtrooms.