Police Reviews: What’s in the Plans

Seventeen days after the killing in May in Minneapolis of a Black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 203 requiring municipalities to study their law enforcement policies. They were instructed to submit reports by Thursday (April 1) to the state that would, among other goals, attempt to “eliminate racial inequities in policing.”

Plans around the state have ranged from the extremes of Cold Spring’s plan to create a plan to a proposal in Ithaca to replace its 63-officer force with a Department of Community Solutions and Public Safety.

BODY CAMERAS

Cold Spring
Not addressed.

˜Putnam County
Legislature supports the use of body cameras and recommends sheriff review costs.

˜Beacon
Body and car cameras in use since 2018.

˜Dutchess County
Capital plan for 2021 to 2025 includes funding for body cameras. Work with local agencies to coordinate joint purchases.

TRAINING

˜Cold Spring
A committee of two trustees and two officers will update policies adopted in 2013 on ethics, organization, personnel, regulations, property management and use of force, “which are out of sync with best practices” in the state.

˜Putnam County
Report suggests that “de-escalation is not a topic but more of a science/skill that permeates into almost all aspects of recruit training” and is covered in instruction relating to persons with mental illness and disabilities. Recommends sheriff pursue state training for crisis-intervention teams.

˜Beacon
Continue training officers to de-escalate tense situations using models that stress diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion, as well as crisis-intervention training for individuals with mental illness.

˜Dutchess County
Have all deputies complete crisis intervention and de-escalation training (40 percent have done so). Create a citizen police academy to give those who attend, such as members of the civilian review board, a better understanding of police practices. Form a countywide procedural justice and implicit bias training initiative (done last year).

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

˜Cold Spring
“Officers engage with residents and visitors in informal ways. In warmer weather, spending part of shifts on foot is encouraged by the officer-in-charge. As a result, officers have a largely positive rapport with and knowledge of residents and shopkeepers.” The village hired a consultant, Lexipol, to assist with the review, and the village will survey residents and business owners to identify areas of concern as well as create a community stakeholders group by April 30.

˜Putnam County
Host public forums for the community to address safety and how to report complaints about Sheriff’s Department.

˜Beacon
Explore hiring non-sworn neighborhood safety officers to bring concerns to police. Create a citizen advisory committee to make recommendations regarding “equitable practices and strategies.” Hold quarterly public meetings to gather input from community.

˜Dutchess County
Explore creating a civilian review board that would function as an advisory committee. Hold regular town hall meetings. Create annual surveys for communities served by Sheriff’s Department.

MEDICAL RESPONSE

˜Cold Spring
Not addressed.

˜Putnam County
Sheriff’s Department will continue collaborating, when feasible, with other agencies and mental health professionals when interacting with those in crisis to ensure equitable and safe treatment.

˜Beacon
City hired a behavioral health care manager who will begin assisting police next month. Report recommends that city also hire a social worker trained to work with diverse populations and resolving individual and family problems. Continue partnerships with addiction-recovery programs.

˜Dutchess County
Stakeholder group to examine creating an alternative or co-responder program.

PUBLIC INFORMATION

˜Cold Spring
Not addressed.

˜Putnam County
Increase the accessibility of the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request form. Sheriff’s Department should increase public access to policy and policy changes by publishing online. Sheriff will compile data about arrests and the discharge of firearms by officers and post data online.

˜Beacon
Collect and analyze data such as use of force, complaints against officers, arrests and traffic stops and make it available to the public.

˜Dutchess County
Make arrest report and use-of-force data available to civilian review board, along with employee evaluations, community survey results and founded complaints of misconduct.

DIVERSITY

˜Cold Spring
“Because of limited racial and ethnic diversity, bias-based incidents are not commonly reported, though several have been investigated since 2018. There is no evidence that they are present in any significant way in relation to policing.” A data review “might be revelatory concerning the policing of the more diverse population that moves through the jurisdiction.”

˜Putnam County
Sheriff’s Department to continue its efforts to attract a larger pool of candidates to foster diversity.

˜Beacon
Educate a larger pool of potential candidates about civil service exams, including the timing of upcoming tests. Explore the idea with Dutchess County of reinstituting civil service tutorials.

˜Dutchess County
Waive the 60 college credit requirement to take the civil service exam. Instead, require new officers earn 60 credits within five years of hire.

OFFICER WELL-BEING

˜Cold Spring
Not addressed.

˜Putnam County
County requires psychological evaluation for all officer applicants. At 18 months, Sheriff’s Department probationary period is six months longer than state standard. Report suggests these requirements are sufficient safeguards to ensure competent officers. Sheriff’s Department has cardiovascular, counseling, employee-assistance and peer-support programs. Report recommends additional mental and physical health programs as appropriate.

˜Beacon
Create surveys to ensure officers’ perspectives are being heard.

˜Dutchess County
Instill a culture of wellness at the police academy level, including psychological screening and limiting the hours officers are allowed to work in a set period.

ACCOUNTABILITY

˜Cold Spring
Not addressed.

˜Putnam County
The Sheriff’s Department in September introduced quality-of-service forms that can be used to register complaints against officers. The Legislature endorsed a recommendation from the People of Color Subcommittee to create a public accountability committee.

˜Beacon
Improve city and community oversight of allegations of misconduct, including expanded formats and methods for residents to submit complaints.

˜Dutchess County
Develop mechanisms to provide information to the public on how to file a complaint. Add a complaint/commendation form to the county website.

WHAT’S NEXT?

˜Cold Spring
The Village Board on Tuesday (March 23) adopted a seven-page document describing the steps to come. Its timetable envisions an “action plan” being completed by March 2022.

˜Putnam County
The Legislature on March 18 voted 9-0 to approve the 248-page plan, including 15 recommendations drafted by the panel and its subcommittees.

˜Beacon
The City Council released its 52-page draft earlier this month and heard public comments on March 15. It has scheduled a council discussion and vote for Monday (March 29).

˜Dutchess County
The Legislature approved the 42-page plan on March 8, although six Democrats in the 25-member body voted against it, including Nick Page, whose district includes three wards in Beacon.

READ THE PLANS

˜Cold Spring
bit.ly/cold-spring-plan

˜Putnam County
putnamcountyny.com/policereviewpanel

˜Beacon
bit.ly/beacon-police-plan

˜Dutchess County
bit.ly/dutchesspolicereform

One thought on “Police Reviews: What’s in the Plans

  1. Lots of good stuff here. However, are we missing the most fundamental necessity? How about hiring only those who respect all Human Terrestrial Animals, not only the “white” ones!

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