Board Adopts Police Reform Report
White Plains, NY — Board of Legislators has officially adopted the report of the County’s Police Reform and Reimagining Task Force in a unanimous vote on Monday night, after weeks of review by the Board’s Public Safety Committee.
The adoption of the report establishes a blueprint for police reform intended to promote more equitable policing in Westchester.
The 177-page report contains 51 recommendations for the County’s police, correction and other public safety operations including:
· implicit bias and intercultural competency training for law enforcement personnel
· a formal review of the County Department of Public Safety’s use of social media for branding and community outreach
· creation of community liaisons
· increased multi-lingual communications
· training in implicit bias and restorative justice for School Resource Officers
· joint de-escalation training with the Department of Correction
· increased Police Academy training in procedural justice, cultural diversity and bias-related crimes
· creation of a County Office of Police Accountability
Leg. Colin Smith (D- Cortlandt, Peekskill, Yorktown), chair of the Public Safety Committee and also a Task Force member, said, “The Task Force’s work was serious, deliberative and thorough, as was our review. In adopting the report, we are establishing a roadmap for police reform in Westchester County. Some of these recommendations will be able to be able to be implemented relatively quickly. In other cases, implementation will require longer-term work to iron out details, explore legal requirements, and establish fair and practical processes. But make no mistake, this is not a report we are adopting and then setting aside. We will be moving forward, in cooperation with the County Executive’s office, to implement meaningful reforms to promote more equitable policing now and for the future.”
Leg. Terry Clements (D - New Rochelle, Pelham, Pelham Manor), who also served on the Task Force said, “I want to thank the Task Force chairs -- Mayo Barlett and Leroy Frazer -- and Blanca Lopez from the County Executive’s office for their guidance and support. There’s a negative view of policing among many in our Black and Brown communities. The Task Force worked diligently to develop recommendations to support transparency in policing. Transparency will help bridge the gap between dedicated police professionals and our communities. Continued police training will improve community relations and foster best practices to address real biases that lead to inequitable and over-aggressive policing. This report lays the groundwork for a new era in Westchester.”
Leg. Damon Maher (D - Eastchester, New Rochelle, Tuckahoe), who served on the Task Force said, “I’m thankful to fellow members of the Task Force for the serious and cooperative work they put into this report. We engaged in genuine, substantive dialog that wasn’t always comfortable, but I believe was constructive. This report that we’re adopting fairly reflects the broad consensus of that dialog and I pledge to work hard to implement its recommendations, most importantly the establishment of a strong and independent Office of Police Accountability and special regional Behavioral Health Response Units. Also, in the spirit of the report, we have a framework for considering additional policies and procedures, even beyond the specifics in the report, as we progress toward a more just, modern and transparent idea of public safety as a whole.”
Board Chair Ben Boykin (D - White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison) said, “This is a generational document, but our adoption of it is just the beginning of the reform process. Substantial work is ahead of us to implement the reforms this document contemplates, but the work of the Task Force gives us a foundation upon which to build a fairer and more open future. I’d like to thank all the Task Force members including the Task Force chairs for their work, as well as the County Executive for his leadership and the members of the public for their thoughtful input.”
In 11 meetings, including a session for public input, over more than a month, the Public Safety Committee took a deep dive into the report’s recommendations and the process by which those recommendations were arrived at. The committee heard from Task Force members, including co-chairs Mayo Bartlett and Leroy Fraser as well as the County’s Department of Public Safety and other law enforcement representatives.
The report itself was the culmination of nearly seven months of work by a 38-member Task Force. The Task Force is comprised of thirty-eight members, which include County and local law enforcement professionals, clergy representatives, criminal justice and police reform advocates, human rights professionals, the Executive Director of the Westchester County Youth Bureau, the Executive Director of the Westchester County Human Rights Commission, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner, representatives from the Westchester County District Attorney’s office, three Westchester County Legislators, and other public servants. The Westchester County Executive additionally attached six staff liaisons to the Task Force in order to ensure that the group had access to all available resources and assistance.
Under Executive Order 203 from Governor Cuomo, all municipalities statewide must adopt a police reform and reimaginging plan by the State by April 1. County Executive George Latimer had previously announced plans for a County police reform task force, which he then expanded to address the requirements of the Governor’s order.
Read the Westchester County Police Reform and Reimagining Task Force report at: https://www.westchestergov.com/images/stories/pdfs/policereformreport.pdf