At a time when policing is the subject of national debate, the mayor of Plattsburgh has outlined a recent upgrade of the city’s policing policies.
Each week Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read provides an update on the status of the COVID-19 outbreak. His latest briefing came just after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the North Country could move to Phase Three reopening as of Friday. Read, a Democrat, was very pleased to hear the news. “We’re doing very very well up here in this area and that’s what allowed us to be one of only half the regions that was allowed to go to Phase 3 today. We’ve done an incredibly good job of social distancing and mask wearing right from the very get-go. And the opening up of Phase 3 just really indicates all the success we’re having here. Now it’s going to make us a little bit more nervous because there’s a lot more close contact we’ll be seeing in Phase 3. But I know the restauranteurs certainly will value being able to start up again albeit at a very reduced level reduced capacity according to the protocols. And I know we’re also determined to not let the infection get out of hand. If there’s any blips in the data at all I’m sure we’re going to act accordingly.”
Mayor Read announced that the city now has a new use-of force policy in effect. He said the last revision was in 2007. The policy was crafted by assessing other cities’ policies, and the mayor believes the city may now have one of the best policies in the country. “It’s absolutely state-of-the-art. It does all the things that you would want it to do for instance banning chokeholds. You’ve probably been following the ‘8 Can’t Wait’ set of recommendations eight recommendations for state-of-the-art use of force policy. It incorporates all those. It talks about de-escalation as an essential tool in the toolbox for a police force. This isn’t a problem that has occurred in the city of Plattsburgh before I believe. But it certainly is something we want to pass to make sure that it never would occur.”
City Police Chief Levi Ritter said several components in the use of force policy have changed. “The primary areas are duty to intervene. De-escalation needs to be addressed by specific training. I’m looking to find adequate training. There are a lot of changes though. Those are just two of them. Chokeholds are one, shooting at vehicles.”
Mayor Read is also optimistic that a long dormant area for potential development may soon be revived. New RFP’s were requested for an 11-acre area called Harborside near the waterfront. The mayor said at least one letter of interest was received. “This is something that’s really gratifying. The part that I found most exciting about the DRI is finally being able to make the Lake City truly a lake city and get people living by the lake and accessing the lake and opening up the lake.”
On a vote of 5 to 1 the Common Council authorized the Community Development Office to enter preliminary negotiations with Skyward Hospitality regarding the potential Harborside development.