As if police don’t already have enough grief: A Tenafly councilman has angered officers in his town with a racially-charged comment.
School officials had been considering replacing a single resource officer -- who primarily patrols the high school and occasionally the middle school – with recently-retired armed police officers in all district buildings.
Last week, a member of a Tenafly Facebook group posted a link about an armed guard on Long Island who left his gun in a school bathroom.
In response, Councilman Max Basch wrote: “If they had an armed guard on duty the kid with a toy gun would be dead. Is that what you want?”
Another reader replied: “Why do you say that? It’s illogical.”
Basch responded: “Because a cop with a gun seeing a black kid with a gun would shot[shoot] the kid immediately. It happened in Chicago, Detroit and all over the United States. Those are facts.”
Daily Voice messaged Basch seeking comment Tuesday morning. He hadn’t replied as of more than 24 hours later.
Schools Supt. Shauna C. DeMarco eventually rejected the proposal to add the retired officers.
During the process, the police department’s rank-and-file officers said they trusted Chief Robert Chamberlain and district officials to make the choice they felt was right for the school district.
“The officers of the Tenafly Police Department will faithfully and professionally carry out whatever duties that may be asked of them for the good of the community,” Tenafly PBA Local #376 President Brandon Moriarty said.
What’s worried them, Moriarty said, are what potential effect Basch’s comments could have on how citizens view police.
“As a member of the town council he has a much stronger voice in the community than others,” the PBA president said. “As a council member, he should be a leader and pillar of good faith in the community.”
Basch also sits on the council’s Police Committee, Moriarty noted: "Thus, his words, especially those he claims are ‘facts,’ carry even more weight.
“If just one member of the public, one student, one concerned parent, etc., reads and believes what he wrote, then, at minimum, it destroys the community bonds that officers work to build daily…by attending community events, hosting community events, doing school walkthroughs, school dropoff/pickup security and traffic details and attending sporting events,” the union chief said.
Basch had previously posted Facebook comments that police in general want “more good guys with guns so we can have huge shootouts in schools and all over. Killing our kids was not their concern.”
Those were removed, but last week’s have remained.
Basch has “caused a larger target to be placed on an officer's back” by suggesting that “police seek violence, want more violence, and do not care if children die,” said Moriarty, who heads a 33-member local.
“The worst-case scenario is that such statements make the public view the police as the enemy,” he said. “We've seen time and again what a radical person is willing to do when they view the police as the enemy.”
He equated it to yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater.
“At minimum it is designed to incite fear and panic, and at maximum it causes injury or violence,” Moriarty said.
"No proper officer anywhere in this country goes to work and wants to get into a shooting, especially in a school," he added. "Our officers have children within the Tenafly school system Even the ones who do not, to suggest officers do not care about the safety of all children is utter nonsense -- whether it be in regards to the Tenafly Police Department or any other across this country."
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