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PRESS RELEASE – BBO Response to RWJ/Barnabas Health


On October 2nd published an article on how the Fair Lawn, New Jersey, School District hired armed uniformed Police Officers to patrol their schools. As we are all aware, there has been a national call to better ensure the safety of our nation’s school children in response to recent events. Although school shootings are rare, school districts and government entities are attempting to work within their extremely tight budgetary resources to meet this goal of better ensuring our children’s safety, and this effort by the Fair Lawn district is to be commended.
Upon the posting of the aforementioned article, a comment linked to the article posted via social media caught the attention of the public as well as national law enforcement causing outrage. Michellene Davis, a lawyer and Vice President of Corporate Affairs for the Robert Wood Johnson/Barnabas Health Network (RWJBarnabas) commented “Who is going to train them (the police) not to shoot black children first”. When the Chief Executive of a major health networks comments began to go viral, her first instinct was to lie. She initially stated that her social media account was hacked, only to later retract her lie and eventually offer an apology for her “insensitive comment”.

Ms. Davis’s comment insinuating that our nations police target and systematically murder children of color, painting our officers as racist, untrained, murderers is not only uneducated and outright false, but is disgrace coming for a person in her position dictating the corporate affairs of one on New Jersey’s largest health network.

For some factual background, police deadly use of force is at a forty (40) year low down nearly 70%. In 2017 alone there were 1,247,321 violent crimes nationwide, with only 987 total incidents of police deadly use of force. Of those 987 incidents of police deadly use of force, 99.5% of the subjects where armed with a weapon. As for Ms. Davis’s racial charge that our nation’s police target “black children” or black Americans in general, her accusation is simply false, adding to the black on black crime epidemic, rather than assisting to solve the problem. Per the FBI 2017 Uniform Crime report (UCR), although Black & African Americans account for only 13% of the population, they account for 54% of all murders and robberies with their victims being predominantly black or African American as well, meaning a young person of color is 110 times more likely to be murdered by another person of color then a police officer.

When the article first went viral, RWJBarnabas seemed to distance themselves from their Executive Vice Presidents statements stating “they were investigating the comment” and “have placed Ms. Davis on administrative leave pending an investigation.” But on October 9th, just mere days later, President and Chief Executive Officer Barry H. Ostrowsky, after pledging his organizations indebtedness to Law Enforcement, seemed to double down on Ms. Davis’s comment stating that it was RWJBarnabas Health’s “strategic plan to claim a leadership position” on social issues such as “violence in all its forms”, and state that he is “confident that Ms. Davis remains the proper executive to lead the social impact and community investment practice for RWJBarnabas Health”.

We at Brothers Before Others, a nationally recognized Law Enforcement Charity organization, take exception to both the comments directed at our Nations Finest, as well as the lack of ownership from the CEO of a major heath network to not only dispute the outright misinformation portrayed by one of its senior leadership officials, but seems to glance over the fact that her initial response was to lie about making the comment altogether. How are New Jersey Law Enforcement officers, whose very lives may depend on such a health network to have confidence that they will be treated and cared for fairly with such anti-police bias at its most senior levels?

In place of taking a leadership role in our nations medical malpractice epidemic, which per a recent Johns Hopkins study accounted for between 250,000 and as many as 440,000 deaths, and is the third leading cause of deaths nationally whose victims are disproportionately persons of color, it appears the health network would rather give credibility to an anti-police false narrative in order to deflect looking in the mirror themselves.

Please join us, and many Union and fraternal organizations that will stand with us on Thursday October 18, 2018 at Noon, at the RWJBarnabas Health Networks headquarters located at 95 Old Short Hills Road, West Orange NJ 07052, as we let this organization know that the American Police Officer will no longer sit idly by to be their false rhetoric punching bag.


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