SCPD Commits to Improving Latino Community Policing

Agreement with the Justice Department comes five years after the killing of Marcelo Lucero.

A memorial ceremony at the site in Patchogue where Marcelo Lucero was stabbed to death in 2008. (Patch file photo)
A memorial ceremony at the site in Patchogue where Marcelo Lucero was stabbed to death in 2008. (Patch file photo)
The Suffolk County Police Department has committed to "significant changes in how it engages the Latino community" under a tentative settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday. 

The Justice Department began an investigation of the department in 2009 following the killing of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who was attacked by a group of teenagers in Patchogue in November 2008. 

That investigation "focused on discriminatory policing allegations, including claims that SCPD discouraged Latino victims from filing complaints and cooperating with the police and failed to investigate crimes and hate-crime incidents involving Latinos," the Justice Department said in a statement. 

Under the settlement, which must be approved by the county legislature, the police department is required to "to ensure that it polices equitably, respectfully, and free of unlawful bias."

The agreement also calls for enhanced training and investigation of allegations of hate crimes and bias incidents, better access to police services for those with limited English proficiency and strengthened outreach by the police department in Latino communities. 

The Justice Department had already recommended several reforms to improve policing in Latino communities in 2011 and the county instituted a number of them. The agreement announced Tuesday "memorializes those recommendations" and commits the police department to the changes, the Justice Department said.

“All residents of Suffolk County deserve full and unbiased police protection, regardless of national origin, race, or citizenship status," Loretta Lynch, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement. "When people feel they cannot turn to the police for protection, they have lost one of our most basic rights – the right to feel safe in one’s community." 

Lynch praised the county and the police department for cooperating with the investigation and working to "ensure fairness and equal treatment for all."

The Justice Department will monitor compliance with the agreement, which ends only after the police department has substantially complied with all of the requirements of the agreement for at least one year. 

John Bogack December 04, 2013 at 09:02 AM
This is good news. The agreement once approved by the Suffolk County Legislature represents an end to a lot of the lingering issues brought to light by the death of Marcelo Lucero. And it represents steps to better policing in the future which should make a very large part of the population of Suffolk County feel safer. It is fair: the agreement respects the good name of the Police while promising needed reforms.
betsy smith December 04, 2013 at 10:30 AM
I am shocked to learn that this list of reforms has taken five years to reach a point where it now may be reviewed by the county legislature. I thought that Mayor Pontieri had instituted a number of these reforms many years ago--such as employing Spanish-speaking police or the relisting of events from "Youth Disturbance" to "Hate Crime" and so forth. Marcelo Lucero is a man who will never be forgotten in Patchogue. That there is still no park or other monument to him is unfortunate.
John Bogack December 04, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Betsy the Suffolk County Police are not under the control of the Mayor. The Suffolk County Police Department is under the control of the Suffolk County Legislature. It has taken a long time to get to this point but that said they got there. Patchogue Village does have Code officers who are not police officers but have the legal status of security officers. They are not police or peace officers, carry no weapons and cannot arrest anyone. Whatever the Mayor has promised in the past I have seen little evidence of aggressive recruitment of Spanish speaking Code enforcement officers by his administration. I am not sure why that is the case to tell you the truth because I do believe he values that skill. Just recently one of the few Spanish speaking code officers that the village did have quit. I think for a better job. Another one quit a while ago to take a similar position I understand in Brookhaven Town possibly for better pay. I am not sure at this point how many Spanish speaking code enforcement officers are actually now in the field. The village over all needs more Code enforcement officers and included in that need would be Spanish speaking code officers who are not civil servants but part time non civil service appointments. That status should actually make hiring Spanish speaking officers easier and again I am at a lost to understand why the ranks have not been filled with more of them. I whole heartedly agree with you about some kind of permanent symbol memorializing Macelo Lucero. However that is not yet in the cards. Instead, sometime in the next year or so the South Street bus stop is going to be moved to Unity Place. Where his death took place is going to be paved over into that use a sort of erasing of history as our village gentrifies further. There are good reasons to move the bus stop but it seems to me that included in that change ought to be a plaque, a garden, a piece of public sculpture, a bench, something to respect the dignity of that space by saving its history.
Patchogue Snoop December 13, 2013 at 11:01 AM
Nothing is need at all, I am sick of you keeping this alive. Why have you never mentioned the other crimes in this area involving someone' death? No memorial is necessary. Period. This was not a murder, he was convicted of manslaughter.....do you know that? Stop spreading a false narrative. Lucero attacked those kids first..it is absolutely true and proven in court. Why do yo see this man deserving more than anyone else who lost their life in a crime??? You have no idea at all what really happened. I'm sure you will believe to your death the lies printed by Newsrag. But hey libs lie all the time right?? Then they think hey it is lie but it sounds good and many dopes in this society will eat it up!! Right John? Let me say his Brother speaks volumes....jump on the law suit bandwagon to steal from the families of these kids.....scum bag in my book so is his incompetent attorney who blew the case thank goodness. These illegals have taken over my town. Get out and go home now. If you are here legally LEARN THE LANGUAGE like you should..PERIOD. I hate the stores with Spanish only signs, that is racist as it seems you don't want Americans visiting your shop . I suggest ot all legal hispanics...wake up and start respecting our community now. This causes animosity and sense of you not wanting to assimilate....ie here to take and contribute nothing! I have an idea....why no hispanics planting gardens in this Village to commemorate this guy Lucero?
betsy smith December 13, 2013 at 11:10 AM
With neighbors like the Snoop I doubt if they would last very long.
John Bogack December 13, 2013 at 02:20 PM
PS your last post a new low. I didn' think it possible but it is. That memorial is coming. Your post is all the proof I need to tell me how badly it is needed. Betsy, thanks for your thoughts about the possibly of hate motivated vandalism when it is in place. I have full faith and confidence in the ability of the Police to bring to justice any criminals who were stupid enough to think that they could desecrate such a memorial with the whole world watching and get away with it. While it looks like there are those among us who hunger for the days of the racist South, those days are past. Criminal acts will be met with resistance from the majority of this community who do believe in fairness, and the rule of law for everyone.
PatP. December 13, 2013 at 03:34 PM
betsy, i would take snoop as a neighbor before I would take a single family home with five or so families living there. But that's just my opinion. I think I am still able to give my opinion and you and a certain someone else is not offended.
betsy smith December 13, 2013 at 06:56 PM
I meant the memorial garden planting not lasting very long, Seti 101.


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