Abe Daniels: Get the facts on police presence at J.C. Price carnival
I would like to give you my rebuttal to the article that was published in the April 8 edition of the Salisbury Post, “Carnival organizers ask for fewer police officers; city keeps same number,” written by Emily Ford.
In the article, I am quoted as saying, “The heavy police presence in recent years of 11 officers has kept people from attending (the J.C. Price Post 107 carnival),” but this was not true. It was only in the years 2009-2011 when there was in excess of 30 police officers and patrol cars that made the carnival look like an armed camp. For years 2012 and 2013, the amount of police protection was reduced to a total of 11 officers every night, and this is more than adequate full coverage.
However, the main reason I appeared before the City Council was to have them explain to me why a nonprofit veterans’ organization has to pay the Salisbury Police Department $1,400 to serve and protect the West End Community and those who attend the carnival. The Police Department mission statement says they will provide “quality law enforcement services with honest, fair and ethical treatment for all.” This $1,400 cost does not appear to be an example of fair treatment for all. The stated conditions imposed by the City Council did not include any payment for police protection to be on hand.
It was retired Deputy Chief Steve Whitley who set up the City Council’s demand for blanket coverage of the carnival for safety reasons. At the 2012 meeting with police, Post 107 said that, due to the low attendance over the past three years, we didn’t think we would be able to continue to donate $1,400. Then Deputy Chief Whitley assured us that because of the council’s demand for police protection, the city would cover the bill, should we no longer be able to give such a sizable donation. Yet now, it’s as if we are mandated to pay this sum.
Also, I can’t fathom why a 2007 incident was included in the article or the very unfortunate death of a teenager, as it had no bearing on the carnival. In 2008, during the carnival, there was one minor incident that escalated when a new officer over-reacted and called out for emergency assistance when that was not the case. Police who responded to the incident were overly aggressive. This led to damage to a police cruiser by a few youth in the area.
In the paper, City Manager Doug Paris is quoted as saying, “Hundreds began to riot.” Anyone who lives in the carnival area of town will dispute that as an over-exaggeration. The West End cannot be compared to the Watts neighborhood of the ‘60s.
Finally, I want to say shame on the Salisbury Post for writing and publishing such a story before checking all the facts.
Abe Daniels, a Vietnam veteran and retired Air Force master sergeant, is adjutant for J.C. Price American Legion Post 107.