Panel votes to suspend Ms. Lawson-Muhammad

chalmers

Here's a link to the decision handing down the six-month suspension and calling out the Board of Education for failing to address the incident publicly. It will be interesting to see if this rebuke from the state will spur former BOE president Elizabeth Baker to explain exactly what she did and who she told when the Village of South Orange sent the video to her. 

https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/0eecdc25-95dd-4c0d-b7be-497d46996bd1/downloads/C34-18%20-%20PDF.pdf?ver=1553635415508


joan crystal

Wasn't this a recommendation rather than a ruling with the effect of law?  Even if the ruling has the effect of law (which is not the impression I got from reading the Village Green article) there is still an appeal process which, if followed, would delay any formal action.


chalmers

Not sure, but I think the resolution on the last page gives legal authority to the recommendation detailed on the first 30 or so pages.

There is an appeals process and Ms. Lawson-Muhammad says that she is evaluating her options. I don’t know what legal grounds might exist, unless she chooses to challenge the admissibility of the tape. The facts are undisputed and the main issue seems to be whether Ms. Lawson-Muhammad’s personal experience and the general mistreatment of African-Americans by police in this country justifies her behavior. That doesn’t seem like a legal point, but a situation where the Commission has authority to decide how much weight to give that particular defense.  

I think the bigger issue is summed up in this paragraph:

“The Commission also feels compelled to note that it is disheartened by the Board’s failure to address the incident on April 27, 2018, especially since the Board President received a “Confidential Communication” from the Village Trustees expressing their concerns with Respondent’s actions. Even if the Board determined, in consultation with counsel, that Respondent’s actions were not in her capacity as a Board member – a conclusion which the Commission finds was incorrect – it could still have taken an opportunity to emphasize that Respondent’s actions were inappropriate, were not condoned by the Board, and were not representative of the Board or its individual members.”


yahooyahoo

Poor leadership by Elizabeth Baker, who was president of the BOE at the time.

IMHO, some of the BOE members were trying to protect Lawson-Muhammad rather than deal with the situation.


kmt

There is justice in the world.


Mike

While I have a real problem with SLM’s behavior and unwillingness to accept responsibility I suspect that the board may have suppressed action because of the individual who is largely responsible for making this incident as public as it is.   That individual has an agenda of their own.   


I guess we’ll see.   And for the record if I have the opportunity I will vote against re-electing SLM.   


sprout

I'm glad people cheer for punishment over learning opportunities.  Yay for punishment. Down with approaches towards productive change.

To Red's point, there seemed to be multiple factions who approached this with their own agendas -- resulting (in my opinion) in a missed opportunity to reflect on how law enforcement/community interactions can be improved if either side starts stressing out during their interactions. 


kmt

How exactly does this prevent SLM from learning @sprout?


sprout

How does only SLM "learning something" help law enforcement/community interactions?


cramer

sprout - I thought the SO police officer acted admirably. 


mayhewdrive
sprout said:
How does only SLM "learning something" help law enforcement/community interactions?

 If you watch the video, the officer used a textbook approach of how we would hope and expect EVERY officer to interact with the community. He was kind, professional and polite.  Based on that, there is zero learning that the officer needs and quite a lot that Ms. Muhammad needs.  Based on her defensive reaction today, it's clear she has a long way to go to accept responsibility for her actions.


davepressel

I find it both interesting and disheartening that people think we should take into account the context of the situation.  


The context is pretty clear to me. You want to say you have trauma and anxiety when stopped by the police, I 100% understand. Where her argument goes downhill is that had she not tried the "I'll call Sheena" approach nor uttered the "skinhead police chief" statement, this never would have even been in the news. Actions have consequences, and that is truly what's in play here.


Mike
joan_crystal said:
Wasn't this a recommendation rather than a ruling with the effect of law?  Even if the ruling has the effect of law (which is not the impression I got from reading the Village Green article) there is still an appeal process which, if followed, would delay any formal action.

 Yes, it seems to me the thread should be changed to 'Panel votes to recommend suspension' or something similar.  


sprout
cramer said:
sprout - I thought the SO police officer acted admirably. 

Yes, the officer "acted" admirably. But:

1. Proof of insurance: Is it not allowed to use an image of one's current insurance card, sent to one's phone, to show proof of insurance? 

  • What sent SLM on a final rant was getting a summons for the missing insurance card when she was in the process of having her husband text her an image of their current insurance card. 
  • Is it an unbending rule that one must have the paper copy, even as we move to a more electronic world? Isn't having the insurance, and being able to demonstrate it, the actual issue? Is there any reason you shouldn't be able to have your insurance company send an image as this demonstration?

Example de-escalation technique: If law enforcement could suggest that (or allow time for) one to contact their insurance company for a card image, so the officer doesn't need to be so punitive during the traffic stop. This small appearance of compassion from law enforcement could help de-escalate an interaction over a speeding ticket, rather than adding this extra punishment for forgetting a small scrap of paper. The point is simply that one needs to prove that they are in compliance with car insurance law, right? 

2. The officer left the interaction calm on the outside, but frustrated on the inside. 

  • Could that frustration matter for a future interaction?  
  • Could that frustration matter in terms of what the officer said to his fellow officers, who then alerted various factions to the tape's existence (and sent the video to "family and friends"...)

Is there a way for law enforcement to approach those they have stopped in a way that decreases the likelihood of an irrational/emotional response? Is there a way to decrease anxiety from the start?

------------------------------------

In summary: Here's what I think could have been better:

There may be methods for officers to reduce anxiety at the start of traffic stops, or to de-escalate interactions once a person starts acting irrationally.

If the officer was familiar with these types of approaches, and was skilled at using them, he may have left feeling accomplished rather than leaving frustrated at the end of the interaction. And this could have saved SLM (and our town) from embarrassing herself and ending up on the news.


DaveSchmidt

The School Ethics Commission website lists eight members, with one vacancy. (It's dated 2017, but the only term that would have expired is Robert Bender's, and he remains the chairman.)

All are men. None of the seven whose photos I found online appear to be black.

Discuss.


krnl
davepressel said:
I find it both interesting and disheartening that people think we should take into account the context of the situation.  


The context is pretty clear to me. You want to say you have trauma and anxiety when stopped by the police, I 100% understand. Where her argument goes downhill is that had she not tried the "I'll call Sheena" approach nor uttered the "skinhead police chief" statement, this never would have even been in the news. Actions have consequences, and that is truly what's in play here.

 She was stopped for speeding..Something like going 40mph in  25 mph zone.  That is the action that preceded the stop.  From my persprective, that is sufficient to justify the decision.  For me, she was stopped for a reasonable violation of the law.  


yahooyahoo

It's the law to have proof of insurance with you in the vehicle. Period.  

She did NOT have proof of insurance, either electronically or hard copy.  Period.

I'd rather not have police resources waiting for people to be calling family for documents when they were required to have them from the start.  Take the ticket and fight it in court.



sprout
davepressel said:
I find it both interesting and disheartening that people think we should take into account the context of the situation.  

For clarity: My point is to use this event and video as a starting point for future process improvements. (And not what you are disheartened about -- which I'm not currently seeing in this thread).


yahooyahoo
DaveSchmidt said:
The School Ethics Commission website lists eight members, with one vacancy. (It's dated 2017, but the only term that would have expired is Robert Bender's, and he remains the chairman.)
All are men. None of the seven whose photos I found online appear to be black.
Discuss.

I agree with their assessment of the incident and the following lack of action by the BOE.

Why don't you tell us if you agree with their decision?


Mike
sprout said:
Yes, the officer "acted" admirably. But:
1. Proof of insurance: Is it not allowed to use an image of one's current insurance card, sent to one's phone, to show proof of insurance? 
  • What sent SLM on a final rant was getting a summons for the missing insurance card when she was in the process of having her husband text her an image of their current insurance card. 
  • Is it an unbending rule that one must have the paper copy, even as we move to a more electronic world? Isn't having the insurance, and being able to demonstrate it, the actual issue? Is there any reason you shouldn't be able to have your insurance company send an image as this demonstration?
Example de-escalation technique: If law enforcement could suggest that (or allow time for) one to contact their insurance company for a card image, so the officer doesn't need to be so punitive during the traffic stop. This small appearance of compassion from law enforcement could help de-escalate an interaction over a speeding ticket, rather than adding this extra punishment for forgetting a small scrap of paper. The point is simply that one needs to prove that they are in compliance with car insurance law, right? 
2. The officer left the interaction calm on the outside, but frustrated on the inside. 
  • Could that frustration matter for a future interaction?  
  • Could that frustration matter in terms of what the officer said to his fellow officers, who then alerted various factions to the tape's existence (and sent the video to "family and friends"...)
Is there a way for law enforcement to approach those they have stopped in a way that decreases the likelihood of an irrational/emotional response? Is there a way to decrease anxiety from the start?

------------------------------------
In summary: Here's what I think could have been better:
There may be methods for officers to reduce anxiety at the start of traffic stops, or to de-escalate interactions once a person starts acting irrationally.
If the officer was familiar with these types of approaches, and was skilled at using them, he may have left feeling accomplished rather than leaving frustrated at the end of the interaction. And this could have saved SLM (and our town) from embarrassing herself and ending up on the news.

 I think you're really pushing it here.  In response to your numbered points:

1.  I don't know if a screen shot of valid insurance is acceptable, but let's say that it is.  Can't we agree that an adult (who happens to be a local official) should have it on the phone ready and not ask an officer to wait?  If the officer should have to wait, then should he/she also wait in the case that insurance is invalid and you go online to renew?  Seems little difference to me.  I don't think a mandatory court appearance is a lot to ask in this case.  It's a local court, she's not out of state.  And like it or not, she was out of compliance at the time of the stop.  

2.  Your two examples are pure speculation on your part.  We could go back and forth with what-ifs on either side of the argument.  Whatever frustration the officer felt was justified in my opinion. 


At the end of the day SLM was caught speeding and did not have valid insurance.  She cited her position either in expectation of special treatment or as a threat to an officer acting as he should have.  She further denigrated another local official using his race to do so.   I don't follow closely enough to know if she is an important member of the BOT, but her character was on display here and in my opinion did not live up to what we should expect.  


ETA:  A few of the above posts appeared while I was writing this, I didn't mean to be duplicative of other posters. 


DaveSchmidt
yahooyahoo said:


Why don't you tell us if you agree with their decision?

Because I’m raising a potentially more consequential question than the matter of my personal opinion.


sprout
yahooyahoo said:
It's the law to have proof of insurance with you in the vehicle. Period.  
She did NOT have proof of insurance, either electronically or hard copy.  Period.
I'd rather not have police resources waiting for people to be calling family for documents when they were required to have them from the start.  Take the ticket and fight it in court.

OK. I disagree with the last part. I'd rather we have police resources take more time at traffic stops and have them result in more positive outcomes for traffic stops. 

I assume you would prefer traffic stops to have higher quality outcomes (even if it takes a bit more time), rather than have higher quantities of traffic stops with poorer outcomes, yes?

Which leads to the question: What do you see as the best possible outcome of traffic stops for speeding? And how does that lead to the ultimate goal -- what the process of stopping and ticketing speeders improves in our lives?


sprout
Red_Barchetta said:
I don't follow closely enough to know if she is an important member of the BOT, but her character was on display here and in my opinion did not live up to what we should expect.  

Yes, one can use this 10 minute video of SLM for one's own evaluation of her and how she is treated/punished. Which will impact the world on a small scale. (And whether I personally agree or disagree with the punishment impacts things pretty much not-at-all).

However, what could impact the world on a much larger scale is that this volatile interaction potentially demonstrates areas where law enforcement could develop and practice de-escalation techniques.


yahooyahoo
sprout said:


yahooyahoo said:
It's the law to have proof of insurance with you in the vehicle. Period.  
She did NOT have proof of insurance, either electronically or hard copy.  Period.
I'd rather not have police resources waiting for people to be calling family for documents when they were required to have them from the start.  Take the ticket and fight it in court.
OK. I disagree with the last part. I'd rather we have police resources take more time at traffic stops and have them result in more positive outcomes for traffic stops. 
I assume you would prefer traffic stops to have higher quality outcomes (even if it takes a bit more time), rather than have higher quantities of traffic stops with poorer outcomes, yes?
Which leads to the question: What do you see as the best possible outcome of traffic stops for speeding? And how does that lead to the ultimate goal -- what the process of stopping and ticketing speeders improves in our lives?

Where is the best place to resolve a missing document?  On the side of a busy road or in a municipal court?  What is the safest way? 

Traffic stops for speeding are meant to deter speeding.  Speeding is unsafe. It has been proven that speeding leads to worse outcomes when accidents occur.  Pedestrians are at far greater risk when a car is driving above 25 mph.  

Are there better ways to deal with speeding?  Maybe, I'm not sure.  New Jersey ended its "red-light" camera program.  Other options include road engineering to slow vehicles down.

 


Mike
sprout said:
Yes, one can use this 10 minute video of SLM for one's own evaluation of her and how she is treated/punished. Which will impact the world on a small scale. (And whether I personally agree or disagree with the punishment impacts things pretty much not-at-all).
However, what could impact the world on a much larger scale is that this volatile interaction potentially demonstrates some areas where law enforcement could develop and practice de-escalation techniques.

 I don't see that this incident demonstrates the need for police to develop and practice de-escalation techniques.  Surely Ms. L-M is entitled to feel frustrated, bummed out, like her day was ruined, etc, but it shouldn't be acceptable for anyone to display the entitlement / threat the way she did.  As I see it this is all on her.   The only volatility displayed here originated with her words.  In fact when the officer showed concern for her and offered to call an ambulance, that was just perceived as further insult.  If you want to say that in general policing techniques need improvement I'll probably agree.  It's just that this specific case does not support that suggestion.  


sprout
Red_Barchetta said:
 I don't see that this incident demonstrates the need for police to develop and practice de-escalation techniques.  Surely Ms. L-M is entitled to feel frustrated, bummed out, like her day was ruined, etc, but it shouldn't be acceptable for anyone to display the entitlement / threat the way she did.  As I see it this is all on her.   The only volatility displayed here originated with her words.  In fact when the officer showed concern for her and offered to call an ambulance, that was just perceived as further insult.  If you want to say that in general policing techniques need improvement I'll probably agree.  It's just that this specific case does not support that suggestion.  


Yes, I want to say that in general, policing techniques need improvement, especially in the area of de-escalation. 


It's likely easier to practice de-escalation in a volatile situation when the officer does not feel physically threatened (as in this video), so it could provide a good example for this work.


sprout
yahooyahoo said:
Where is the best place to resolve a missing document?  On the side of a busy road or in a municipal court?  What is the safest way? 
Traffic stops for speeding are meant to deter speeding.  Speeding is unsafe. It has been proven that speeding leads to worse outcomes when accidents occur.  Pedestrians are at far greater risk when a car is driving above 25 mph.  
Are there better ways to deal with speeding?  Maybe, I'm not sure.  New Jersey ended its "red-light" camera program.  Other options include road engineering to slow vehicles down.
 

I agree -- one goal is increased safety, such as by decreasing likelihood of car accidents and collisions with pedestrians.

What is safer: 

  • Ticketing and then sending a speeder on their way so they go 25 mph, but are frustrated/enraged and distracted?
  • Or ticketing and then sending a speeder on their way so they go 25 mph, and are not in such a distracted and volatile mood?

annielou

Believe me, sprout. Getting a ticket will almost always put one in a volatile mood regardless of how it’s handled. In this specific case, the driver is totally responsible for taking her mood into overdrive. 


bklyngirl
annielou said:
Believe me, sprout. Getting a ticket will almost always put one in a volatile mood regardless of how it’s handled. In this specific case, the driver is totally responsible for taking her mood into overdrive. 

 Precisely.  Sprout:  this is about holding SLM accountable for her inappropriate actions that day.  That's all.  Whether/how/when we need to learn from this, train law enforcement, etc., is a separate issue that shouldn't interfere with attempting to hold SLM accountable.



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