MONTCLAIR, NJ - Less than a week after the Montclair PBA came under fire by local residents for what some have perceived as insensitive comments made on their Facebook page, The Sentinels 16-87, Montclair's minority police officers organization has issued a statement asking for the PBA local 53 to assist them in "remedying the situation" among residents.
The Trump-themed Facebook post made on Monday morning by the Montclair PBA local 53 caused concern for several residents, not for the political views, but for what many have called "insensitivity" of the post and related follow-up posts.
The meme posted on the Montclair PBA local 53 page is a picture of an officer in uniform running and reads, "Guys!! Trump Won!! We get to be cops again!!!"
Although Montclair residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton, residents stated that the implications one can conclude by the post were disturbing and the follow-up commentary, "insensitive".
Residents were concerned over what many perceived as the divisive nature of the post, in a community where residents and police officers proactively work to maintain positive relations. Some residents, during a subsequent meeting with the police chief, have also expressed additional concerns over the implied views of the officer and how these views would play out in a tense situation in the community.
The Sentinels 16-87, a Montclair minority police officer organization led by Lt. Tyrone Williams, issued a statement informing the public that, as PBA local 53 members, they had no knowledge of the offensive post until seeing news reports.
After outcry from residents, then Wednesday evening the Montclair PBA pulled the post and responded with what some residents have called an "insensitive" response.
The Montclair PBA stated on their page that the post was meant to be "comical," saying, "With regards to a recent post that appears to have caused many to be upset and annoyed....It was a comical post, nothing more than that. There were no derogatory words, and most definitely no mention of color. No statement for ANY human being to FEAR for their life. Unfortunately, many chose to conclude what THEY believe the post stood for. That in itself is sad."
The post went on to list how many officers have been killed in the line of duty from 2010 to 2016 and continues saying, "This is where the tragedy lies. Society could care less of these officers AND their families. But a meme post can draw so much attention...."
Williams said, "We do not find the post comical in the least bit, and in fact consider it to be in poor taste, and inappropriate."
On Thursday night, Chief of Police Todd Conforti, Lt. Williams and the two Deputy Chiefs of Police Tracy Frazzano and Wilhelm Young attended the Civil Rights Commission meeting and informed residents that there will be a full an investigation into the post.
After public outcry, both prior posts were removed and then residents were told that the page was "hacked."
Chief Conforti has also informed residents that he does not feel the page was hacked and he was scheduled to meet with the PBA President on Friday morning. No further word has come forth as a result of that meeting.
The letter from Williams and the Sentinels 16-87 continued in denouncing any connection with the post, "As members of Montclair PBA Local 53, we can say for certain, and without reservation that the Facebook post does not represent the sentiments of the PBA Membership as a whole."
The statement goes further to inform the community that they will continue to build strong relationships with the community and call on other PBA members to assist them in remedying the situation. "We will continue to build strong and meaningful relationships in the community, and intend to be at the forefront of remedying this situation. We call on our Montclair PBA Local 53 Leadership to join us in this effort," the statement continued.
Williams, who is also in charge of the Montclair Police Community Service Unit, has been working with his team of officers to build positive community relations with residents. However, many residents have expressed that this incident was a setback.
Williams and the Sentinels 16-87 are now asking for the PBA local 53's assistance in rebuilding relationships the Montclair Police Department has worked hard to build with the community.
The letter issued on November 18, reads as follows:
"Dear Montclair Community,
Montclair Sentinels 16-87 strongly denounces the Trump-supported Facebook post
that appeared on the Facebook page of Montclair PBA Local 53. We do not find the post
comical in the least bit, and in fact consider it to be in poor taste, and inappropriate. As
members of Montclair PBA Local 53, we can say for certain, and without reservation that the
Facebook post does not represent the sentiments of the PBA Membership as a whole. We
are members in good standing that vehemently object to any suggestion that this
inappropriate meme speaks for us. In fact, it is in complete opposition to our commitment to
the community we serve. Additionally, we find the response to the objections of township
residents to be an even greater travesty of logical thinking. To link this poor excuse of humor
to the ultimate sacrifice that so many of our brothers and sisters have paid is simply
Sentinels 16-87 “Montclair’s Minority Police Organization” members had no
knowledge of this Facebook activity prior to its posting on several media sources Thursday
(11/17/16) morning. As PBA Members, we are extremely disappointed, offended, and
embarrassed by this sequence of activities. We realize this has caused uneasiness,
awkwardness, and anger throughout the community. We look forward to continuing our
commitment, dedication, and partnerships built over the years, serving the community. We
will continue to build strong and meaningful relationships in the community, and intend to be
at the forefront of remedying this situation. We call on our Montclair PBA Local 53 Leadership
to join us in this effort.
Sentinels 16-87 “Montclair’s Minority Police Organization”
Tyrone Williams Jr.