Northampton Police assure residents of commitment to equality, justice

  • Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper, right, and Captain John Cartledge march with the Northampton police department down Main Street during a Northampton Memorial Day parade in Florence.

@ecutts_HG 
Published: 2/2/2017 10:15:30 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Responding to the “current political climate,” Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper took to Facebook this week to assure residents of the department’s commitment to equality, justice and compassion.

“I think anytime there are major movements and national events going on that cause concern and they resonate in our community sometime people just need to hear a statement from our community leaders,” Kasper said Thursday.

In the note, posted to the department’s Facebook page Tuesday evening, Kasper assures the commitment from police as well as local city councilors, the mayor, attorney general, senators, and many other leaders across our Commonwealth.

“At NPD we remain dedicated to our mission statement that highlights our focus, ‘… to enhance the quality of life through respect and understanding for all,’” Kasper wrote. “We are further dedicated to our stated values that include the preservation and advancement of democratic values. Our full mission statement and list of values can be found on our website.”

She continued, “We remain committed to you, the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and to the Constitution of the Unites States. We have taken an oath to protect the many freedoms included in this document that has guided our country for so many years. We are dedicated to protecting your many rights including your First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, freedom of press, and the rights of the people to peaceably assemble.”

Also this week, Amherst officials released a joint statement reminding residents that the town will remain a welcoming community. Town Manager Paul Bockelman, Acting School Superintendent Michael Morris and Police Chief Scott Livingstone issued the joint statement Monday reiterating the values of the college town.

Included in Kasper’s post was a statement from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, of which she is a member. The association released its response to President Trump’s immigration-related executive orders and his idea of using state and local law enforcement agencies in the apprehension and removal of undocumented people in the United States.

“… The IACP has, and will continue to strongly oppose any initiative that would mandate that state and local law enforcement agencies play a role in the enforcement of federal immigration law,” the statement read. “The IACP believes that the issue of state, tribal, or local law enforcement’s participation in immigration enforcement is an inherently local decision that must be made by law enforcement executives, working with their elected officials, community leaders, and citizens.”

Since the post went online, more than 30 people have commented and nearly 80 people have shared it. Kasper said that while she was on Main Street Wednesday, many people stopped to shake her hand.

Overall, she said, the response has been very positive. Kasper said there were a few people in the community who said they didn’t know why she wrote it and didn’t understand the need.

“We have really divided thoughts about what is going on,” she said.

Kasper said that some people really are afraid and really wonder what their future holds. Others, however, are excited about the direction of the government and have no fear.

The post concludes with a the note reminding residents of Northampton’s designation as a sanctuary city and that police do not seek out and apprehend undocumented residents if they have not engaged in criminal activity.

“The way in which we serve our community has not changed in the last two weeks. Our policies and practices regarding undocumented citizens remain the same,” she wrote. “With the support of our citizens and our city leaders, we remain committed to our promise to serve and protect each member of our community.”

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.


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