Also, Dutchess releases report on police reform
Mayor Lee Kyriacou said this week he planned to name Beacon’s next police chief during the City Council’s meeting on Monday (Dec. 21).
Council Member Terry Nelson, who headed the committee charged with overseeing the search, will also speak about the process and the recommendations it made to Kyriacou. After sorting through applications and conducting interviews, Nelson said earlier this month that the committee expected to forward the names of two finalists to the mayor.
The position has been held by interim chiefs — first, by retired Beacon officer William Cornett and, since August, by Lt. Sands Frost — after Kevin Junjulas retired from the force in July.
At the same time, Dutchess County this week released a report by its Police Reform and Modernization Collaborative that outlines reforms designed to eliminate racial inequities and address community needs.
The county said it believes the report could serve as a guide for municipalities that must, under an order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, create reform plans by April 1.
“This was a highly constructive process that produced great areas of consensus,” said County Executive Marc Molinaro in a statement. “The collaborative has created a strong menu of options for municipalities and police departments to consider as they enact their own reforms.”
The report includes a summary of county resident and stakeholder priorities culled from several months of public meetings and other forums.
Among the most common recommendations were the increased involvement of social workers and other non-police staff in drug overdoses and mental health-related calls, and the creation of civilian review boards and oversight committees to increase transparency and police accountability.
The Dutchess report also cites best practices and provides guidance for training, building community trust and developing diversity within police ranks.
It recommended that all law enforcement agencies adopt a policy of having patrol officers wear body cameras. The Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Poughkeepsie will require the use of body cameras beginning next year; Beacon officers have worn the devices since 2018.
The Beacon City Council in August adopted a resolution with nearly a dozen police policy changes, some of which will be implemented after Kyriacou names the new chief on Monday. Many of the recommendations made this week in the Dutchess County report echo those going into effect in Beacon.
The Beacon resolution called for the chief to begin his or her tenure “with a thorough review of police training, culminating in a data-driven set of recommendations” for improvements. It also directed the new chief to examine Beacon’s policy on psychological supportive care for officers and called for a multi-year schedule for implicit bias training for all city staff, including police.
In addition, it called for the chief and city administrator to write several reports, including on “alternative responder” options, the Police Department’s disciplinary policy and its weapons arsenal. Meanwhile, the City Council will review police policies for transparency and strengthen support for mental health services, child care, community assets, digital equity and food and housing options.
Beacon will hold its third community forum on policing and public safety on Saturday (Dec. 19) at 10 a.m. via Zoom. It will be moderated by the Rev. John Perez, the chairperson of the city’s Human Relations Commission, and former Council Member (and minister) John Rembert. Registration is recommended for residents who would like to offer comments. See beaconny.gov.