Beacon Officials Will Talk About Police Training And Practices During Council Meeting
City of Beacon, New York officials will talk about their police department’s training and best practices at a City Council meeting Monday. It follows the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week and resulting protests nationwide, including in Beacon.
Beacon Mayor Lee Kyriacou, a Democrat, says city officials have received a number of inquiries about the Dutchess County city’s police policies.
“Fortunately, we’re in the position where most of the suggestions that we’re hearing and comparisons to other better or best practices, I think we’ve already done most of those in Beacon, and a lot of that is then going to be reassuring the community that we’re sort of on the forward end of the curve as opposed to the back end of the curve in terms of catching up to best practices to treat everyone fairly,” says Kyriacou.
Lieutenant Tom Figlia hopes for more state guidance in one area.
“I think one area that we could actually really use some help from the state and from other organizations is the de-escalation aspect of it. The state requires de-escalation training, and we definitely do our best to give that training, but they don’t actually give us any real standards and guidelines on it so we are, we’re trying our hardest,” Figlia says. “And we coordinate Dutchess County Department of Behavioral Health and PEOPLe Inc. to do crisis intervention training, and we do our own de-escalation training, but we’d love to actually have more guidance from the upper levels in the state on stuff like that.”
Officers also receive procedural justice training by the Dutchess County Police Academy. All Beacon patrol officers wear body cameras, and Figlia say he’s glad the force has them.
“I mean, I know we like them very much,” says Figlia. “It gives us an opportunity to review things, to use them for training, to help officers along the way.”
Again, Mayor Kyriacou:
“Cameras help everyone, right, because it both helps the officers in the sense that it gives them training opportunities and sometimes it finds out that the officers were doing things exactly correct and it also helps the community,” Kyriacou says. “And I think it’s an important part of having in place the confidence that police enforcement will be community sensitive and appropriate.”
On Monday night, June 8th, the Beacon police chief will join the City Council for a conversation on best practices and training used by city police. Kyriacou believes just going over policies that already exist will instill confidence in the public.
“If, in the process, we discover additional things that we may want to work on, we should be all ears,” says Kyriacou. “And I think we will be very sensitized to being able to respond and adapt appropriately.”
All Beacon officers undergo annual training on use-of-force procedures as well as current case law. This includes de-escalation strategies, prevention of positional asphyxia, or suffocation, and the duty to intervene in cases of excessive force.
“With respect to training, I think the current circumstances will change how everyone thinks about training even if it doesn’t change the actual kind of specifics, but I think we’re going to all be a lot more sensitized given the circumstances of the recent protests and death,” Kyriacou says.
Figlia says a protest in Beacon was peaceful.
“Our approach has been that we’re there really to facilitate what people are doing,” says Figlia. “We want people to know that we’re not there to disrupt it. We’re not there to stand in their way of making their voices heard, but our position has been, like I said, to facilitate it and keep everybody safe there.”
On Monday, Westchester County Executive George Latimer announced the formation of a working group to review county police academy polices.