MetroFocus: September 16, 2020

For the first time in 38-years, New York State has gained a new municipality. The town of Palm Tree, NY came into existence on January 1st 2019, but like any other birth story, it did not come without strife. Palm Tree is the latest iteration of a tiny village called Kiryas Joel- a Yiddish speaking, deeply religious Hasidic Jewish community, with a physical footprint of only 1 square mile. And with a population over 20-thousand and growing, they needed more space to build more houses. But the town of Monroe, New York, of which they were a part, expressed deep reservations about allowing this fast growing community to annex any new land. Producer/Director, Jesse Sweet takes us inside the boiling point of tension in “City of Joel.”

Tonight, we continue our conversation with The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb, about his new Frontline documentary on race and policing in America. In “Policing The Police 2020”, Cobb examines the question of why accountability is so hard to come by when it comes to the cops. And he looks at how the city of Newark, NJ has tackled the more intractable problems facing its police force since 2016. Yesterday we discussed systemic problems found in police departments not just in Newark, but across the country. Today, we discuss the solutions.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

FUNDING FOR 'CHASING THE DREAM' IS PROVIDED BY THE JPB FOUNDATION.

ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR 'CHASING THE DREAM' IS PROVIDED BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 38 YEARS NEW YORK STATE HAS A NEW MUNICIPALITY, THE TOWN OF PALM TREE.

IT CAME INTO EXISTENCE JANUARY 1st OF 2019.

LIKE ANY OTHER BIRTH STORY, IT DID NOT COME WITHOUT CAUSING SIGNIFICANT PAIN.

PALM TREE IS THE LATEST ITERATION OF A TINY VILLAGE CALLED CURIOUS JOEL.

TIMELY ONLY REFERS TO THE LAND MASS OF THE VILLAGE.

CURIOUS JOEL IS A DEEPLY RELIGIOUS HASIDIC JEWISH COMMUNITY WITH A FISCAL FOOT POINT OF ONE SQUARE MILE AND A POPULATION OF OVER 20,000 AND GROWING FAST.

THEY NEEDED MORE SPACE TO BUILD MORE HOUSES.

THE TOWN ON MONROE, OF WHICH CURIOUS JOEL WAS A PART OF, EXPRESSED DEEP RESERVATIONS ABOUT ALLOWING THE FAST GROWING COMMUNITY TO ANNEX ANY MORELAND.

THIS BOILING POINT OF TENSION IS WHERE THE FILM 'CITY OF JOEL' BEGINS.

LET'S TAKE A LOOK.

IT'S AN ONGOING BITTER TURF WAR.

JUST 50 MILES NORTH OF NEW YORK CITY.

IT'S A VILLAGE, LITTLE MORE THAN A SQUARE MILE THAT HAS RAPIDLY GROWN IN SIZE TO MORE THAN 20,000 PEOPLE.

CURIOUS JOEL IS A VILLAGE WITHIN THE TOWN OF MONROE.

MEMBERS OF THE SAT MOORE COMMUNITY FROM BROOKLYN ORIGINALLY MOVED IN OVER HERE.

THE HASIDIC LIFE REVOLVES AROUND FAMILY AND CHILDREN.

GROWING UP, WE ALWAYS KNEW THAT THE LOCAL PEOPLE DON'T LIKE US.

THERE'S A HIGH DEMAND FOR HOUSING IN CURIOUS JOEL.

A PETITION WAS SEEKING ANNEXATION OF 570 ADDITIONAL ACRES.

WE NEED MORE ROOM.

THEY'RE JUST NOT GOING TO GIVE US WHAT WE NEED.

THIS ANNEXATION NEEDS TO STOP.

WE NEED TO PROTECT THE SCHOOLS, NOT JUST FOR THE KIDS, BUT HOME VALUES.

THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING ABOUT OUR LIFE.

WE LIVE THE WORLD OF TODAY -- PEOPLE ARE AFRAID OF --

HAVE EMPATHY FOR YOUR WAY OF LIFE.

WHAT ABOUT --

THE TENSIONS THAT ARE CAUSED BY ALL THESE EVENTS TRANSLATE INTO EXPLOSIVE ANTI-SEMITISM.

MONROE IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO LIVE.

IT'S ALSO WHERE A CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS IS TAKING PLACE MORE HERE THAN ANYWHERE ELSE IN AMERICA.

I'M JOINED NOW BY THE FILM PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR JESSE SWEET.

JESSE, WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS'.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE.

SO I JUST WANT TO ASK, HOW DID YOU EVEN COME ACROSS THIS STORY?

IN ALL TRANSPARENCY HERE, I HAVE BEEN COVERING NEW YORK STATE FOR A WHILE.

ALSO AS A RESIDENT OF THE HUDSON VALLEY, I WAS VERY FAMILIAR WITH THE STORY.

IT FELT LIKE A HYPER LOCAL THING AND IF YOU WEREN'T IN THE MID HUDSON REGION, YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE KNOWN WHAT WAS GOING ON.

YEAH.

I'VE BEEN IN NEW YORK CITY 20 YEARS NOW.

I HADN'T HEARD ABOUT CURIOUS JOEL BEFORE I STARTED MAKING THIS DOCUMENTARY.

I FIRST GOT INTERESTED IN THE TOPIC WHEN I MOVED TO CROWN HEIGHTS, BROOKLYN, ABOUT 12 YEARS AGO.

I'M EASTERN EUROPEAN, JEWISH AMERICAN.

ALL FOUR OF MY GRANDPARENTS WERE BORN IN EASTERN EUROPE AND EMIGRATED IN THE EARLY 20th CENTURY.

THERE'S A LARGE COMMUNITY HERE, AND I HAD MIXED EMOTIONS ABOUT IT.

ON THE ONE HAND I FELT A SOLIDARITY LIKE THESE ARE MY PEOPLE.

WE SORT OF COME FROM THE SAME VILLAGES AND HAVE SPLIT OFF.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I FELT LEAK I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THEM A LOT AS A MORE REFORMED JEWISH PERSON, I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND A LOT OF THE CULTURE, GENDER, POLITICS, THEIR FORM OF JUDAISM.

BEING A GOOD DOCUMENTARY SOLDIER, I THOUGHT I WANT TO BRING SOMEONE LIKE ME CURIOUS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HASIDIC CULTURE INTO IT.

I FIRST THOUGHT A GOOD ENTRY POINT COULD BE PEOPLE WHO LEFT THE COMMUNITY.

AFTER I SPENT A LITTLE TIME WITH SOME OF THEM, I WAS MORE INTERESTED IN THE PEOPLE WHO STAYED.

THROUGH THE PEOPLE I INITIALLY MET IN BROOKLYN, SOME OF WHOM HAD LEFT, I STARTED LEARNING ABOUT CURIOUS JOEL BECAUSE SOME OF THEM LEFT CURIOUS JOEL AND IT STRUCK ME AS A RICH MATERIAL FOR A DOCUMENTARY BECAUSE IT HAS A WAY TO EXPLORE HASIDIC IDENTITY IN THE 21st CENTURY, IT'S A VERY PURE FORM OF IT IN THAT IT'S ITS OWN COMMUNITY, MORE ISOLATED.

EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE DOES REVOLVE AROUND THEIR INTERPRETATION OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A HASIDIC JEWISH PERSON.

I INITIALLY WENT UP THERE THINKING THAT WOULD BE A GREAT -- WHAT'S IT MEAN TO BE A HASIDICPERSON IN THIS DAY AND AGE DOCUMENTARY.

AND THEN I SAW THE TENSION BREWING -- NOT BREWING.

BY THE TIME I GOT THERE, IT WAS OUT IN PLAIN SIGHT.

I REALIZED THAT COULD BE A GOOD WAY TO EXPLORE SOME OF THE -- TO GIVE A NARRATIVE DRIVE TO THE FILM SO THAT THERE WOULD BE THIS TICKING CLOCK OF WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN AND THAT COULD SORT OF BRING IN SOME OF THE ISSUES OF IDENTITY, CULTURE, RELIGION.

THAT'S HOW I ENDED UP THERE.

YOU SORT OF TOUCHED ON IT WHEN YOU EVEN COMPARED LIVING IN NEW YORK CITY IN CROWN HEIGHTS WHERE, AS YOU SAID, THE LUBAVITCH COMMUNITY IS.

WHILE THEY ARE ALSO A COMMUNITY WITHIN A LARGER COMMUNITY, YOU HAVE THAT AS WELL WITH CURIOUS JOEL EXCEPT THERE WAS SIGNIFICANT TENSION.

SO I TRIED TO LAY IT OUT A LITTLE BIT IN THE INTRO WITH THE ISSUE OF LAND, WHICH IS REALLY WHAT THIS CAME DOWN TO, WAS LAND USE AND WHO WAS GOING TO BE ABLE TO USE ADDITIONAL LAND OF A COUPLE HUNDRED ACRES TO BUILD MORE HOUSING, BUT THERE WAS A REAL POINT OF TENSION BETWEEN THE TOWN OF MONROE AND THE VILLAGE OF CURIOUS JOEL.

YEAH.

AND I MEAN I THINK -- OBVIOUSLY WE GET INTO THIS IN THE FILM.

WE SORT OF TEASE IT OUT THERE.

PART OF IT IS THE BACKSTORY THAT I THINK YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHICH IS CITY OF JOEL REFERS TO JOEL TEITELBAUM WHO IS THE REBBE, THERE ARE DIFFERENT SECT IN THE HASIDIC COMMUNITY AND THEY'RE NAMED AFTER THE VILLAGES WHERE THEY WERE CREATED.

EACH HAS A REBBE WHICH IS THE SPIRITUAL LEADER OF THAT COMMUNITY.

MOST OF THE REBBES WERE KILLED DURING THE HOLOCAUST.

JOEL TEITELBAUM WAS ONE OF THE FEW TO SURVIVE.

IT WAS A REAL SOURCE OF PRIDE THAT THERE WAS A REBBE WHO COULD HELP REJUVENATE HASIDIC PRACTICES IN THE UNITED STATES.

BRIER TO THAT, SOME -- MY ANCESTORS WERE LIKE -- THERE WAS AN INITIAL WAVE OF JEWISH PEOPLE WHO EMIGRATED.

SOME WHO STAYED THOUGHT YOU CAN'T BE JEWISH IN AMERICA, THERE'S TOO MUCH CAPITALISM, YOU GET SEDUCED BY THE BRIGHT LIGHTS AND MONEY.

THERE WAS A RESISTANCE TO COMING.

JOEL TEITELBAUM FELT LIKE AFTER HE CREATED A COMMUNITY IN BROOKLYN, WE NEED TO GO -- THAT WAS TRUE, THAT WE SHOULD GO OUT AND CREATE MORE OF LIKE AN OLD WORLD TYPE COMMUNITY WHERE WE CAN HAVE EVERYTHING REVOLVE AROUND RELIGION AND NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE OUTSIDE INFLUENCES OF DAILY LIFE AND WHAT PEOPLE ARE EXPOSED TO ON SIDEWALKS.

THEY HAD A HARD TIME FINDING LAND.

THEY HAD LAND DEALS FALL THROUGH WHEN PEOPLE FOUND OUT THEY WERE HASIDIC.

THERE'S A CERTAIN -- WHEN THEY WERE FIRST IN STATEN ISLAND AND NEW JERSEY.

BEFORE THEY GET THERE, THERE'S A CERTAIN SENSE THAT THEY WEREN'T WANTED IN PLACES.

I THINK THEY VERY MUCH SAW IT AS WE HAVE TO BE PROACTIVE AND CREATE ENOUGH SPACE WHERE WE CAN GROW.

I THINK THAT'S THEIR MIND -- OBVIOUSLY IT'S A COMPLICATED GROUP, 20,000 PEOPLE AND 20,000 DIFFERENT OPINIONS.

ONE COMMON THING IS WE NEED TO GET AHEAD OF CREATING A PLACE WHERE WE CAN HAVE ENOUGH SPACE TO CONTINUE TO GROW WHICH IS PART OF OUR, YOU KNOW, BEING A GOOD MEMBER OF THE SECT.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I FELT LIKE THERE WERE PEOPLE WHO SAW THIS GROUP COME IN IN THE 1970s AND THERE WERE HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE AT FIRST WHO DIDN'T LOOK LIKE THEM, DIDN'T TALK LIKE THEM.

IT FELT LIKE THERE'S SOME -- THIS IS NOT MY VIEW AND CERTAINLY NOT THE VIEW OF OTHER PEOPLE, SOME PEOPLE LIKE, THESE PEOPLE AREN'T PART OF OUR COMMUNITY AND THEY'RE TAKING IT OVER.

THERE WAS I THINK A FEAR FROM SOME PEOPLE IN MONROE THEIR WAY OF LIFE WAS BEING ERODED BY HAVING THIS FAST GROWING COMMUNITY THAT ARE VERY DIFFERENT FROM THEM.

THERE'S THIS KIND OF DEEP PSYCHOLOGICAL ANXIETY BETWEEN THE TWO GROUPS THAT I THINK, AS YOU POINT OUT, BEFORE EVEN THE ANNEXATION BEGINS, IS THERE AND THEN THE ANNEXATION IS SORT OF A FLASHPOINT FOR IT.

IT IS.

IT'S VERY INTERESTING BECAUSE, AS YOU EXPLORE WHERE THESE TWO GROUPS ARE COMING FROM -- FIRST OF ALL, THE FILM TAKES, FROM WHAT I CAN TELL, TOOK GREAT PAINS TO NOT TAKE EITHER SIDE BUT SIMPLY TO LAY OUT WHERE BOTH GROUPS WERE COMING FROM.

BUT CONSIDERING THAT EVERYONE LIVED THEORETICALLY WITHIN THE SAME TOWN OR WITHIN THE SAME AREA, THERE WAS VERY LITTLE INTERACTION SO EVERYTHING SEEMED TO BE RIFE WITH MISUNDERSTAND DINGS OR MISINTERPRETATIONS.

IT SEEMED TO BE THE KIND OF BREEDING GROUND TO CREATE THE KIND OF TENSION THAT YOU ULTIMATELY SEE AT THIS TOWN HALL MEETING.

YEAH.

I THINK IT IS A CASE WHERE THERE'S -- WITHIN THE HASIDIC COMMUNITY UP THERE, AND I THINK THIS IS WHERE ONE THING IS DIFFERENT FROM BROOKLYN.

I THINK IT'S MORE INSULAR.

I THINK THE INS SUL LAYERITY OF IT, IT GIVES THEM STRENGTH BECAUSE THEY DO WANT TO KEEP OUT ASPECTS OF CULTURE THAT THEY DON'T AGREE WITH.

THERE'S A LOT OF PARTS OF MAINSTREAM CULTURE -- AS A PARENT, I'M LIKE, MY GOD, MY KID IS EXPOSED TO THAT.

THEY THINK BY BANNING TOGETHER AND CREATING A POCKET WHERE IT'S A PRETTY HOMOGENEOUS POPULATION, THAT THEY'RE GOING TO ONLY EXPOSE THEMSELVES TO THE RELIGIOUS TEACHINGS AND CULTURE THAT THEY WANT THEIR CHILDREN TO BE EXPOSED TO.

IT ALLOWS THEM TO REALLY THRIVE IN A LOT OF WAYS.

IT'S ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING COMMUNITIES IN THE UNITED STATES.

I BELIEVE IT HAS THE HIGHEST BIRTH RATE IN ONE OF THE YOUNGEST POPULATIONS.

IT'S THRIVING IN A LOT OF WAYS.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME IT IS CUT OFF FROM THEIR CLOSE NEIGHBORS.

SO I THINK THAT IS RIFE -- I THINK IF THIS DISCUSSION ABOUT ANNEXATION HAD BEEN WITH A LITTLE MORE OPEN-HANDED WAY FROM BOTH SIDES BEGAN, THEY COULD HAVE NOT GONE TO THE WAR FOOTING THEY DID.

BECAUSE THEY WERE -- YOU HAD THIS INSULAR GROUP AND THE GROUP IN MONROE, SOME OF WHO JUST DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THEM.

SOME OF THEM MIGHT HAVE BEEN BIASED AGAINST THEM, THAT IT IS A SITUATION WHERE A SMALL MISUNDERSTANDING INSTANTLY GOES TO DEEP ESCALATION.

COMPLETELY, YES.

AND THE FILM DOES ALSO ADDRESS -- THERE WERE ACCUSATIONS THROUGHOUT THIS DEBATE BEFORE THE TOWN CAME TO A DECISION, AND THAT WAS -- ACCUSATIONS OF ANTI-SEMITISM, IN THAT THERE WERE VOICES, VERY UGLY VOICES COMING OUT OF THE MONROE COMMUNITY AS WELL.

THAT IS ALSO ADDRESSED IN THE FILM.

IT'S A COMPLICATED THING BECAUSE THERE ARE CERTAIN VOICES OF ANTI-SEMITISM.

I THINK THE HASIDIC COMMUNITY HEARS THAT.

HOW CAN THEY NOT?

THEY'RE CONDITIONED TO REALIZE THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO DON'T LIKE JEWISH PEOPLE WHO ARE THEIR NEIGHBORS.

IT BECOMES HARD TO DISTINGUISH, ONCE THAT KIND OF -- THERE'S SOME ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE DEBATE IS HARD TO DISTINGUISH THERE'S SOMEONE BEING ANTI-SEMITIC OR ARE THEY CONCERNED WITH DENSITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT AND SOME OF THOSE THINGS.

SOME OF THOSE TERMS WOULD BE DOG WHISTLES FOR PEOPLE WHO MIGHT WANT TO BE ANTI-SEMITIC.

CERTAINLY I THINK THE MAIN CHARACTERS WHO WE FOCUSED ON IN THE OPPOSITION WERE NOT ANTI-SEMITIC.

BUT THEIR LANGUAGE COULD SOMETIMES GET CO-OPTED BY PEOPLE WHO WERE ANTI-SEMITIC.

IT BECOMES A VERY -- WHEN YOU HAVE TWO GROUPS WHO AREN'T TALKING TO EACH OTHER TO BEGIN WITH WITH HASIDIC PEOPLE, CURIOUS JOEL AND THEIR NEIGHBORS, WHEN THERE WAS ANTI-SEMITISM, IT BECOMES EASY TO THINK IT'S ALL ANTI-SEMITISM.

UNFORTUNATELY WE'VE COME TO THE END OF OUR TIME.

I CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS FILM ENOUGH.

IT HAS, OF COURSE -- 'CITY OF JOEL' HAS AIRED ON PBS AND YOU CAN STREAM IT ON AMAZON PRIME.

JESSE, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TELLING THIS INCREDIBLY COMPLICATED NUANCED STORY WITH I THINK RESPECT AND DIGNITY TO BOTH SIDES.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE.

ABSOLUTELY.

> WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

TONIGHT WE'RE GOING TO CONTINUE OUR CONVERSATION WITH NEW YORKER'S JILLANI COBB ABOUT HIS DOCUMENTARY ON RACE AND POLICING IN AMERICA.

IT'S CALLED 'POLICING THE POLICE 2020.'

IN IT HE EXAMINES THE QUESTION OF WHY ACCOUNTABILITY IS SO HARD TO COME BY WHEN IT COMES TO POLICE.

IT ALSO LOOKS AT SOME WAYS THAT THE CITY OF NEWARK HAS TACKLED SOME OF THE MORE INTRACTABLE PROBLEMS FACING ITS POLICE FORCE OVER THE LAST FOUR YEARS JILLANI COBB, WELCOME TO YOU.

WE'RE DELIGHTED WE CAN CONTINUE OUR CONVERSATION.

THANK YOU.

WE SPOKE LAST NIGHT ABOUT MANY OF THE UNDERLYING ISSUES.

WE TALKED ABOUT WHY YOU HAD ORIGINALLY GONE TO NEWARK SOME YEARS AGO, WHY YOU WANTED TO GO BACK TO SEE WHAT NEWARK HAS BEEN ABLE TO DO SINCE THAT TIME.

SOME OF THOSE UNDERLYING ISSUES, ACCOUNTABILITY, A POLICE CULTURE.

THE EXPECTATIONS IN TERMS OF THE COMMUNITY AND THE POLICE DEPARTMENT.

SO LET'S START OFF THIS PART OF THE CONVERSATION BY TALKING ABOUT WHEN YOU WENT BACK TO NEWARK.

WHEN YOU WENT, YOU RODE IN POLICE CARS AND GOT A SENSE OF WHAT GOES ON ON THE STREETS.

WHAT STRUCK YOU AS MOST DIFFERENT FROM THEN TO NOW?

WELL, NOW I THINK IS A MUCH MORE RECEPTIVE ATTITUDE AROUND THE IDEA THAT THE POLICE DEPARTMENT HAS TO CHANGE.

I THINK THAT THE DEPARTMENT ITSELF SEEMS TO HAVE KIND OF COME AROUND TO SAYING THAT WE'VE DONE SOME THINGS THAT WE'VE OPERATED IN WAYS THAT WEREN'T THE BEST WAY AND THE MOST EFFICIENT WAY OF POLICING THIS PARTICULAR COMMUNITY.

IN ADDITION, THERE ARE THE BEGINNINGS OF A MORE DIVERSE SET OF APPROACHES TO PUBLIC SAFETY BEYOND JUST DOING POLICING.

LET ME GET TO THAT IN A FEW MINUTES.

IT'S FASCINATING TO SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING THERE.

TO SET THE STAGE FOR THE CONVERSATION, ONE OF THE THINGS YOU HEAR ALMOST REGULARLY NOW, WHEN PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT THIS ISSUE AND LOOKING IN TERMS OF REMEDIES, YOU SEE AND HEAR THE TERM DEFUNDING THE POLICE.

WHAT DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT TERM TO MEAN?

IT MEANS DIFFERENT THINGS, BUT GENERALLY, THE MOST CONSENSUS DEFINITION THAT I'VE HEARD IS THAT IT WOULD ENTAIL USING REVENUE, TAKING MONEY AWAY FROM POLICE DEPARTMENT BUDGETS AND USING THAT REVENUE TO FUND DIFFERENT KINDS OF ORGANIZATIONS THAT WILL RESPOND TO COMMUNITY NEEDS IN PLACE OF SIMPLY USING THE POLICE.

GENERALLY SPEAKING, CONVERSATIONS YOU'VE HEARD, THERE ARE SOME SAYING DEFUND THE POLICE MEANING ABOLISH THE POLICE.

ARE YOU SEEING THAT AS BEING A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE OR SUGGESTION GIVING WHAT YOU'VE SEEN IN TERMS OF YOUR REPORTING?

JUST IN TERMS OF MY REPORTING, WE TALKED TO A LOT OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE IN NEWARK.

WE TALKED TO COMMUNITY MEMBERS, TALKED TO PEOPLE ON THE POLICE FORCE, WE TALKED TO PEOPLE IN LEADERSHIP, WE TALKED WITH THE MAYOR, A WHOLE SPECTRUM OF PEOPLE.

WE DID NOT FIND A GREAT DEAL OF SUPPORT FOR ABOLISHING THE POLICE.

WHAT WE DID FIND WAS A PRETTY SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF SUPPORT FOR DEFUNDING, MEANING, IF YOU'RE GOING TO OFF-LOAD THINGS IN THE PURVIEW OF POLICE TO OTHER HANDS-ON ORGANIZATIONS.

JUST AS A QUICK NOTE, THE FIRST TIME I EVER HEARD THE IDEA ASSOCIATED WITH WHAT'S BECOME THE DEFUND THE POLICE MOVEMENT, THE FIRST TIME I HEARD THOSE IDEAS IT CAME FROM POLICE OFFICERS.

INTERESTING.

THE POLICE OFFICERS THEMSELVES ARE SAYING -- IN WHAT SENSE?

ARE THEY SAYING, LOOK, THERE ARE THINGS WE'RE GOOD AT AND WE SHOULD DO BUT THERE ARE THINGS THAT OTHER PEOPLE SHOULD BE DOING WHO ARE GOOD AT IT?

EXACTLY.

TO A LARGE PART, PEOPLE ARE RESPONDING TO THE LANGUAGE AROUND IT.

THIS IS NOT A NEW IDEA.

IF YOU GO BACK TO THE OLD KERNER COMMISSION REPORT IN 1968 ABOUT THE CIVIL DISTURBANCES OF 1967.

THEY SUGGEST SOMETHING THAT'S BASICALLY THE SAME THING SAYING IF YOU USE POLICE FOR EVERY SOCIAL PROBLEM YOU'RE INEVITABLY GOING TO CREATE FRICTION BETWEEN COMMUNITIES AND POLICE.

THAT'S NOT WHAT POLICE DEPARTMENTS ARE CREATED FOR.

COPS KNOW THAT.

LOTS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE COMMUNITY MEMBERS KNOW THAT.

IT'S AN IDEA THAT IS PROBABLY LESS RADICAL IN PRACTICE THAN IT SEEMS IN RHETORIC.

ONCE AGAIN WE'RE TALKING WITH JILLANI COBB ABOUT HIS FRONT LINE DOCUMENTARY CALLED 'POLICING THE POLICE 2020.'

GO TO METROFOCUS.ORG AND YOU CAN FIND WHEN AND WHERE YOU CAN SEE THAT.

LET'S FOCUS NOW ON NEWARK.

YOU GO BACK.

NEWARK HAS -- LET ME ASK YOU, ACTUALLY, TO CHARACTERIZE IT RATHER THAN ME.

WHAT KIND OF PROGRESS HAVE THEY MADE, AND WHAT SORT OF THINGS IN PARTICULAR CAN YOU POINT TO?

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT THE FEDERAL MONITOR SAID, A MAN BY THE NAME OF PETER HARVEY WHO IS CHARGED WITH OVERSEEING THE REFORMS IN NEWARK, ONE OF THE THINGS HE SAID WAS HE THOUGHT LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS REALLY NEEDED TO KNOW THE LAW.

THAT SEEMS INTERESTING.

YOU WOULD THINK THAT THAT WOULD BE FOUNDATIONAL.

IN MANY INSTANCES THEY HAVE NOT.

THEY'VE HAD INTENSIVE TRAINING ABOUT WHAT OFFICERS ARE ALLOWED TO DO BY LAW AND WHAT THEY'RE NOT ALLOWED TO DO BY LAW.

IN ADDITION, THEY'VE GOTTEN NEW POLICIES AROUND TREATING MEMBERS OF THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY WITH RESPECT AND RECOGNIZING THEIR RIGHTS AND SO ON, JUST SOME PROACTIVE KINDS OF THINGS.

ONE OF THE MORE INNOVATIVE THINGS, IN ADDITION, THE NEWARK COMMUNITY HAS A GROUP, THE NEWARK COMMUNITY STREET TEAM WHICH DOES ESSENTIALLY DIPLOMATIC WORK IN HIGH-VIOLENCE COMMUNITIES TRYING TO DEESCALATE CONFLICTS BEFORE THEY RISE TO THE LEVEL OF NEEDING THE POLICE TO BE INVOLVED.

WHAT ABOUT THE NOTION OF MORE PEOPLE OF COLOR BEING PART OF POLICE DEPARTMENTS?

I THINK IN SOME WAYS, THAT'S BEEN TOSSED OUT, BUT IT MAY BE TOO SIMPLISTIC A SOLUTION.

IT GOES BACK TO THE CULTURE THAT YOU AND I TALKED ABOUT PREVIOUSLY.

YOU LOOK AT THE POLICE OFFICERS SURROUNDING GEORGE FLOYD, THERE WERE OFFICERS OF COLOR THERE AND STILL NOBODY STEPPED UP AND SAID THIS ISN'T RIGHT, WE HAVE TO STOP THIS.

HOW DOES THIS PLAY INTO, DO YOU THINK, THE REMEDY SCHEME, IF YOU WILL?

IF YOU GO BACK TO 1967, THE REPORT THAT CAME OUT OF THE UPRISINGS THERE SAID THEY NEEDED TO DEFENSIVE VEARS PHI THEIR POLICE DEPARTMENT.

THE DEPARTMENT NOW IS MAJORITY PEOPLE OF COLOR.

I THINK THERE'S A VALUE TO THAT, BUT IT IS NOT A PANACEA.

YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE POLICE WHO ARE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE COMMUNITIES, BUT CERTAINLY YOU CAN STILL HAVE THOSE KINDS OF PROBLEMS, AS WE SAW IN 2014.

YOU STILL HAD THOSE KINDS OF PROBLEMS WHILE EVEN HAVING A DIVERSE POLICE FORCE.

WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT POLICE FORCE, YOU'RE TALKING LOCAL FORCES.

YOU HAVE LOCAL COMMUNITIES, THE STET LEVEL AND FEDERAL LEVEL.

WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING AT NEWARK, FOR INSTANCE, YOU'RE LOOKING AT WHAT THE PEOPLE IN NEWARK, THE LEADERS, THE MAYOR, WHAT THEY HAVE DONE IN THE LAST FEW YEARS.

WHAT ABOUT AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL IN TERMS OF EITHER MONEY OR GUIDANCE OR DIRECTION, ARE WE SEEING WHAT WE NEED TO SEE IN TERMS OF LEADERSHIP FROM THE FEDERAL LEVEL?

UNFORTUNATELY NOT RIGHT NOW.

THE DOJ HAS THE CAPACITY TO CONDUCT OVERSIGHT OVER POLICE DEPARTMENTS.

NOW, IT'S A DROP IN THE BUCKET KIND OF SITUATION.

THERE ARE 18,000 POLICE DEPARTMENTS IN THE COUNTRY.

THE DOJ DOESN'T HAVE THE RESOURCES TO OVERSEE ALL OF THEM, BUT THE MOST TROUBLED, THE MOST PROBLEMATIC ONES, THEY CAN STEP IN AND CONDUCT OVERSIGHT IN THOSE INSTANCES.

BUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS HAS BEEN THAT THE DOJ HAS SYSTEMATICALLY STEPPED AWAY FROM OVERSIGHT AND SAID THEY DON'T WANT TO INTERFERE WITH POLICE MATTERS AND EVEN DISMISSING THE IDEA AS YOU COULD HAVE SUCH A THING AS A CHRONICALLY PROBLEMATIC POLICE DEPARTMENT.

WE HAVEN'T SEEN A GREAT DEAL OF REFORMED LEADERSHIP ON THAT LEVEL.

HOW ABOUT THE IDEA OF -- YOU USED THE TERM DIPLOMACY, POLICE OFFICERS, POLICE DEPARTMENTS, NEWARK.

I KNOW YOU STUDIED THIS.

THE CAMDEN POLICE DEPARTMENT IN THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, THE CAMDEN POLICE DEPARTMENT BASICALLY WENT AWAY AND REBUILT ITSELF FROM ZRACH A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO.

ONE OF THE THINGS I WAS STRUCK BY IS AS PART OF YOUR FIRST DAY ON THE JOB AS A POLICE OFFICERS, PART OF WHAT YOU DO IS YOU GO KNOCK ON DOORS AND INTRODUCE YOURSELVES TO THE RESIDENTS AND THE COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND YOU SAY, LOOK, WE'RE HERE TO PROTECT AND SERVE.

HOW ABOUT THAT, THAT IDEA OF DIPLOMACY.

HOW SIGNIFICANT DO YOU THINK THAT COULD BE?

I THINK THAT'S HUGE.

I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS YOU HEAR WHEN YOU TALK TO PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY IS A PERVASIVE SENSE THAT THEY HAVE NOT BEEN TREATED WITH RESPECT.

I THINK A GOOD DEAL OF FRICTION THAT ARISES COMES IN THE COURSE OF DAY-TO-DAY INTERACTION.

I DON'T EVEN HEAR THAT SIMPLY FROM COMMUNITY MEMBERS.

I HEARD THAT FROM POLICE OFFICERS WHO KIND OF OFF THE RECORD SAY, YEAH, I KNOW WE'RE GOING ABOUT THINGS IN A WAY THAT MAKES PEOPLE HATE US.

WE'RE TRYING TO GET CRIME DOWN AND MAYBE THIS IS NOT THE BEST WAY TO DO IT.

I THINK THAT'S A REALLY BIG PART OF IT.

ONE OF THE THINGS -- I'VE GOT ABOUT A MINUTE AND A HALF LEFT WITH YOU.

BUT WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS HERE -- AND I'VE HEARD POLICE OFFICERS SAY THIS, SAYING, LOOK, WE NEED TO MAKE CHANGE, WE RECOGNIZE WE NEED TO MAKE CHANGE.

THEY ALSO POINT TO THE FACT THAT VIDEOS, AS YOU MENTIONED IN OUR CONVERSATION YESTERDAY, ARE CAPTURING THINGS THAT DIDN'T GET CAPTURED IN THE PAST, BUT THE POLICE SAY THEY'RE NOT CAPTURING ALL THE GOOD THINGS THAT POLICE OFFICERS WILL DO ON THE STREET AS A COUNTERBALANCE, IF YOU WILL, OR JUST A BETTER PICTURE, A MORE COMPREHENSIVE PICTURE.

HOW ABOUT THAT?

SURE.

I THINK WE NEED TO HAVE AS COMPREHENSIVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE POLICE, DEPICTION OF POLICE AS POSSIBLE.

SO WE HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE WHOLE PICTURE.

THAT SAID, WE SHOULDN'T HAVE TO OFFSET REALLY EGREGIOUSLY BAD BEHAVIOR FROM GOOD BEHAVIOR.

WE SHOULD SIMPLY HAVE A BEHAVIOR THAT MEETS THE BASELINE FOR A MINIMUM STANDARD AND BEHAVIOR THAT EXCEEDS THAT AS REALLY GOOD OR REALLY GREAT.

SO THE NOTION OF LET'S MAKE SURE WE TRUMPET THE GOOD THINGS THAT ARE BEING DONE, BUT WE DON'T HAVE TO DO IT BY PUTTING IT IN A SCALE.

EXACTLY.

-- THE TERRIBLE THINGS THAT ARE TAKING PLACE.

LITERALLY I HAVE 30 SECONDS.

ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC THAT NOW MIGHT BE THE TIME FOR CHANGE?

I BELIEVE SO.

I THINK IT'S POSSIBLE.

NOTHING IS GUARANTEED.

BASED ON WHAT I SAW IN NEWARK, I DO THINK IT IS AT LEAST POSSIBLE.

ONCE AGAIN FRONT LINE DOCUMENTARY IS TITLED 'POLICING THE POLICE 2020.'

OUR GUEST JILLANI COBB, NEW YORKER HISTORIAN AND WRITER.

WONDERFUL WORK FOLLOWING UP FROM THE ONE 40 YEARS AGO.

WE APPRECIATE YOU TAKING TIME TO TALK WITH US.

HOPEFULLY WE'LL GET A CHANCE TO CHAT MORE AS WE MOVE FORWARD TO SEE WHAT SORT OF PROGRESS WE'RE MAKING.

AGAIN OUR THANKS.

TAKE CARE.

TAKE CARE.

>'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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