Four black New York state parole officers who were in the town of Ramapo in Rockland County, N.Y., last April claim that they were stopped by police and held at gunpoint for some six minutes, even though they were dressed in work clothes. Recently released footage obtained by the Journal News appears to confirm this account.
The parole officers—Mario Alexandre, Sheila Penister, Annette Thomas-Prince and Samuel Washington—were in the area to issue an arrest warrant in the nearby village of Suffern. In their lawsuit they claim that they were wearing bulletproof vests, gold badges and ID around their necks, according to the Journal News. The officers also claim that they had a sign on the dashboard indicating that they were employed by the New York State Division of Parole. The car was otherwise unmarked, the Journal News states.
Dashboard footage shows police cars surrounding the parole officers' car that morning. One police officer is seen taking out his gun and pointing it at the car while he uses his own car for cover. The parole officers were ordered out of the car with their hands raised as another police officer is seen approaching the vehicle carrying a pistol.
Damon Jones, the New York representative for Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, is outraged that even after the police officers received word that the four individuals stopped were, in fact, parole officers, they were still held for six minutes.
"If these guys aren't safe, imagine what a young black man feels about interacting with the police,” Jones said. "They have no chance."
Jones believes that race was a factor in why the parole officers were stopped. "Would they receive the same treatment if these parole officers were white?" he asked.
The four black parole officers have filed a lawsuit against the town of Ramapo, Rockland County, the village of Suffern and the Suffern Police Department. The lawsuit notes that the parole officers were "traumatized, humiliated and feared for their lives," the Journal News explains.
A Ramapo town attorney said that "the actions of the town of Ramapo police were reasonable under the circumstances," the Journal News reports.
Read more at the Journal News.