New Jersey State Policeman’s Benevolent Association Prez Pat Colligan today sent a letter to U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), criticizing him over a Tweet that the junior senator issued in response to the police killing of Ma’Khia Bryant.
Booker, chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism’s first hearing – “Behavioral Health and Policing: Interactions and Solutions” – yesterday issued the following Tweet in response to a Columbus, Ohio police killing of Ma’Khia Bryant:
“Ma’Khia Bryant was only 16 years old—killed by police yesterday. She deserves justice and accountability. We must reform this deeply broken system. My heart is with Ma’Khia’s loved ones.”
Colligan, who in his letter to Booker refers to a meeting he had with the senator, expresses his disappointment.
“I do not know if you compose your own Tweets but your statement that Ma’Khia Bryant was ‘killed’ by police and that reform is needed for a ‘deeply broken system’ oversimplifies the matter and presents a dangerous narrative to the ‘Defund the Police’ movement that police officers are never right, even when they take a life to save a life,’ Colligan wrote. “Yes, it is tragic any time a police officer must use deadly force. But no officer answers a call hoping to take a life.”
Colligan said the video shows an officer attempting to use a deadly weapon against another individual.
“I implore you to distinguish between blatant violations of the public trust, as we saw in George Floyd, and the unfortunate but proper action taken in Columbus. There is a major difference,” Colligan argued.
On the same week that a jury delivered a guilty verdict in the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, Booker convened a subcommittee to figure out how the country can better stem the avalanche of mental health issues into the laps of responding police officers, who aren’t trained as social workers.
Booker held up the letters of a police chiefs who want the federal government to step up funding for mental health and other social work services to alleviate officers slammed on routine calls by “the full power of a system” few of them are equipped to manage.