STATEMENT BY MAYOR GORDON JENKINS 12/3/13
In a highly unusual act, the Sullivan County District Attorney's Office released many hours of video tapes of my recent incarceration while charges against me are pending.
There is much that can be said about the video and the associated events. This is not the time for a full discussion of all the issues raised. Legal proceedings are pending.
However, I do want to state the following:
1. I continue to believe that if any police officer observed me in a state of what he or she believed was inebriation, that officer had a responsibility to approach me or any person in a similar situation at the scene of the traffic accident and offer me a ride to wherever I was going. Assuming I was inebriated, such a response would have protected public safety. This never happened.
2. Like those employed by other jurisdictions, our police officers must obey the Constitution and, before questioning a detainee, accord him or her the right to confer with legal counsel if this is requested.
In this case, the video makes clear that I asked repeatedly for legal counsel and was not afforded the right to either call or confer with my counsel. I was not promptly arraigned and was held in what I regard as an inhumane manner. I implore our police officers to ensure compliance with Miranda and to treat all arrestees with basic respect.
3. Despite my evident frustration with what I believe was selective and targeted police conduct against me and the violation of my rights, I agree with those who have condemned my choice of language. I do believe that some of the response I have received as Mayor has been discriminatory and that our Village's accomplishments have been obscured by a focus on my activities or alleged activities. At the same time, I understand that letting anger get the better of me was a poor choice and apologize to those who are understandably offended with my choice of words and the manner in which I expressed my outrage and anger.
I also recognize that the selected segments of police video portray me as if I am possessed of a deep-seated racial animosity toward some of those involved in this incident. I am not, and have spent my career working closely with people of all races and backgrounds. While I was and remain upset by how I was treated, I apologize for my profanity and my use of racial epithets. I understand that many cannot or do not discriminate between the use of such words by a person deeply upset and provoked, as I was, and the use of those words without provocation.
I spent more than three years serving our country before being honorably discharged from the Army and another 29 years as a corrections officer in our state. As noted, I have worked with many fine members of law enforcement of all races and respect police officers who properly perform their duties and applaud their commitment to our community. I also agree that name-calling is not the most constructive way to resolve serious issues of intolerance and bigotry. I regret that my words may distract some from the issues we all need to address: insuring that all people are treated with dignity, especially those cuffed to walls and powerless to stand up for themselves. I remain committed to serving our community and to continue our progress both in respecting the rights of others and helping all to actualize their potential.
In light of pending court proceedings, I will not comment further on these issues and hope to continue to serve Monticello.