Police group boycotts healthcare center after Black executive posts concern over officers in schools

Despite her apology for a statement that a police advocacy group took issue with, an executive with a New Jersey-based healthcare company is still under scrutiny

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Last week, upset members of a national law enforcement organization gathered outside the RWJBarnabas Health offices in West Orange, N.J., after an executive at the healthcare company made what they believe are anti-police statements.

Thursday, approximately 50 members of Brothers Before Others — a nonprofit group comprised of current and retired police officers — showed up to demonstrate in response to what they called a “baseless and egregious” social media post by Michellene Davis, an executive vice president at RWJBarnabas Health, the Asbury Park Press reported.

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“Who is going to train them not to shoot black children first?” Davis, who is Black, posted on Facebook under a link to a story about the placement of armed officers in Fair Lawn schools.

Although Davis has publicly apologized for the comment and was placed on administrative leave, the group is upset that she was reinstated to her position earlier this month.

Brothers Before Others representatives also were frustrated that RWJBarnabas CEO Barry H. Ostrowsky “doubled down” on Davis’s comments by releasing a statement that company plans to take a leadership position in social issues, including “violence in all its forms.” And as part of that focus on social justice issues, Davis will lead the Social Impact and Community Investment Practice for RWJBarnabas Health.

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“For a senior VP of a hospital to come out with that statement demonizing police when that’s not even close to the problem is egregious,” Rob O’Donnell, spokesman for Brothers Before Others, explained.

“Our police are risking everything to protect these children in the schools and are running toward gunfire when there are shootings and she’s accusing them of indiscriminately attacking black children?”

RWJBarnabas Health has since released a statement in response to the rally, clarifying that supporting social justice isn’t necessarily an attack on law enforcement.

“We have the highest appreciation and respect for their unwavering dedication to keeping our communities safe,” read the statement. “We will focus our efforts on continuing to work collaboratively with our partners in law enforcement for the benefit of the people in the communities we serve.”

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