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Police association releases statement about school’s use of children’s book

Something Happened in Our Town

BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- The Binghamton Police Benevolent Association issued a statement Monday morning regarding "Something Happened In Our Town", a book about race that was selected as the April Book of the Month at MacArthur Elementary School.

The book tells the story of two children, one Black and one white, and how they perceive the world through the perspective of their own race.

The Binghamton Police Benevolent Association issued a statement, saying it is concerned the book may leave children with the wrong impression of police officers.

Their entire statement is posted below:

Binghamton City School Administration

The Binghamton Police Benevolent Association and its members were made aware of a video created by school district staff reading the book “Something Happened In Our Town” that was placed on YouTube
for students and their classes to watch. We learned the book was chosen as April’s Book of the Month to teach students about Tolerance.

The Binghamton Police Benevolent Association feels that this book can leave children with several erroneous impressions:

  • Children should not trust, and should be afraid of the police
  • Police stop, arrest, and kill black people for no other reason than their race
  • Police are racist
  • Police are not held accountable for their actions and indiscretions.

While the theme attempting to be promoted in this story was tolerance, it is the opinion of the P.B.A. there is a blatant anti-police message portrayed in the book. Specific examples from the story include but are not limited to:

  • It wasn’t a mistake, said her sister Liz. The cops shot him because he’s black”.
  • “But he won’t go to jail” said his father. “Cops stick up for each other”, said Josh’s brother Malcolm. “And they don’t like black men”.
  • “There are many cops, black and white, who make good choices,” said his father. “But we can’t always count on them to do what’s right.”
  • “That’s not fair. What if it was a white man in the car? Would the police have shot him”? “They probably wouldn’t have even stopped the car.”

We agree there are necessary conversations and dialogue to be had about tolerance, race, and what children can do to be a part of the change and solution not only in their schools, but their community as
well. The P.B.A. whole heartedly supports bringing people together to strengthen and create strong relationships and connections within our community. We are committed to and invested in the children
and families who reside in the City of Binghamton to which we took an oath to serve and protect. While we recognize that it is not incumbent on us to determine what should be taught in schools, we feel that the
language in this book works to undermine public safety and will leave children with the impression that they cannot trust the police.

We hope that the Binghamton Central School District will work to assure their students that the police exist to protect and serve their communities. The members of the Binghamton Police Benevolent Association deserve better than to have their efforts and their profession demonized in this fashion by professional educators and fellow servants of this community. While we feel that an apology to our disparaged members is appropriate, we will continue to serve our community with nothing but courtesy,
professionalism, and respect.

The Binghamton City School District released a statement Monday morning after it took down the read-aloud of the book from YouTube last week.

The district said it respects the police officers in the community and the book does not reflect the district's views on police.

To read the district's full statement, click here.

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