L. Londelle McMillan at SOURCE360 in Brooklyn (245745)
Credit: Twitter/@SOURCE360

City politicians, police, and civil rights advocates attended a panel held Thursday that focused on relations between the NYPD and the community.

The panel was organized by the hip-hop magazine, The Source, and was part of their Source360 four-day roster of events. It included City Council members Jumaane Williams and Antonio Reynoso; L. Joy Williams, the president of Brooklyn’s NAACP chapter; Dana Rachlin, the founder of NYC Together; and Jeffrey Maddrey, the NYPD chief of patrol, Borough Brooklyn North.

Brooklyn’s Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez was not in attendance and was replaced his deputy chief of staff, Wayne K. Williams.

Criticism of the police was a frequent topic throughout the panel, but there was also praise, with Council member Williams describing the NYPD’s Neighborhood Community Officer program as a productive move toward improving relations. However, Williams said he hoped that this community policing philosophy wouldn’t only be limited to NCOs and instead permeate throughout the rest of the department.

“It’s been received well in my community,” said Williams about the program, “though I also want to mention that it does not replace what I spoke about before, which is the need for better accountability and transparency.”

The only police officer on the panel, Maddrey, spoke at length about how important it was to “establish trust” between the community and the police and also praised Rachlin’s NYC Together group.

“There is a lot of distrust in our communities in the police department and a lot of them are frustrated by us, and I will take responsibility for that,” Maddrey said. He defended the police by pointing to the city’s low crime statistics, declining arrests and summonses and the department’s “precision policing” initiative.

In an interview, L. Londell McMillan, the publisher of The Source, said he hoped that “real talk, real work for real change” would result from the panel. However, McMillan said that before any real change could occur, both sides had to be “agreeable to work together.”

“I think we got to see each other as worth working together, and if we don’t then we won’t and so I’m not sure, in one meeting, that’s going to happen,” McMillan said. “But it won’t happen until we start talking to one another and that’s what Source360 is about.”

McMillan pointed to hip-hop culture as something that could build a bridge between the two sides. For example, Big Daddy Kane is the favorite rap artist of Maddrey, according to McMillan, and if Kane was present in a dialogue between the police and the community, then things “can move forward” toward a solution.

“Not that Big Daddy Kane is [himself] a solution,” said McMillan, “but reaching people where they are and being truthful … because we can’t afford to lose too many more of our people through these kind of misunderstandings, and we can’t afford to have our community just thinking [that] all police are horrible. We need real change.”

In Downtown Brooklyn, Source360 also hosted more than 20 events, such as the business master class with Master P and BET CEO Debra Lee. Also well attended were other activities such as signature concerts, leadership panels, youth education and training sessions, nightly private shows, a beauty bar and nightlife events music. Panels and conversations covered sports, fashion, film/TV, art, dance and technology. A big highlight was The Unsigned Hype Competition, and the Source360 Festival Block Party, with street art, fashion, break dancing, poetry slams, a Kids360 talent show, DJs and musical performances.