Organizing NAACP charter weighs in on officer terminations, path forward

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The Scranton community continues to react to the case of two Scranton police officers fired for alleged racist behavior.

The city says they’ve done their part, and now they’re meeting with community organizations.

“To come out after the fact… For me that’s troubling,” said Rick Cephas, treasurer, organizing committee of Lackawanna NAACP.

Members of the organizing committee for the soon-to-be Lackawanna County NAACP chapter are reacting to the last week of events.

The discovery of Scranton police having to terminate two officers for alleged racist conduct, for some, it coming to light paints distrust.

“We don’t want to tolerate that here. That kind of ‘close it up until someone finds out,’ as a community, we are not the afterthought,” said Heather Rhodes, president, organizing committee, Lackawanna County NAACP.

Mayor Paige Cognetti and interim Chief Leonard Namiotka have gone on record saying it was a personnel issue and that it was handled.

“The only reason why we’re having these talks now, they have the privilege to keep it from us and that privilege was taken away from them without their say,” said Savannah Drummond, youth organizer, organizing committee, Lackawanna County NAACP.

The community now pushes for more transparency.

Cephas told us, “You knew this was an issue. Two years ago, you knew this was an issue six months ago, and you’re just now deciding to say something? Simply, because we found out about it? I’m sorry, where’s the transparency in that?”

As a result, the city hosted a meeting and invited community leaders to the table to discuss best practices moving forward.

“There was a lot of good stuff that come out of that meeting. They were very well prepared to deal with the issue at hand,” said Cephas.

Items like a city-backed citizens review board were discussed.

Measures announced in a press release included a whistleblower hotline, analytics software and proposed training all within the upcoming budget.


Trust still needs to be built, but the steps are being taken. A follow-up meeting is scheduled for early December.

“We’re not here to create a vise between us, or the community and its officials. We’re here to make sure that the community is cohesive and we all coalesce together,” said Rhodes.

In part, their press release reads “The NAACP Organizing Charter Committee strongly encourages transparency in order to continue to grow a positive harmonious relationship with the S.P.D. and the citizens of Scranton which will inevitably gain public trust and confidence.”

“We’re definitely a part of the conversation, and we’re definitely going to be a part of the solution,” said Cephas.

All eyes now shift focus to this December 2 meeting where communities will be able to see if there’s an update and actual change on the horizon.

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