Communities across New York were mandated to perform a review of their police departments and policing policies and submit a plan to the state by April 1st detailing reforms in procedures and community engagement. The Plattsburgh Common Council approved the city’s recommended plan Wednesday night.
The only resolution on the agenda at the Plattsburgh Common Council’s meeting Wednesday evening was the adoption of the Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Plan mandated by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203. Most discussion on the draft had occurred during previous meetings of the Public Safety Committee. The Public Safety Review Panel first presented the plan to the committee in February. Member Bonnie Black noted many of their recommendations are long-term initiatives. “Everything certainly is not going to be implemented within 30, 60 or 90 days! In many cases these are institutional recommendations that will wind up being integrated over time and be just part of our system here, for instance in all of the trainings. Many of them are biannual. So I think, I know, everybody on the panel is very comfortable with what we are recommending.”
At a subsequent meeting in March the council’s Public Safety Committee further discussed the review panel’s findings. Democratic Mayor Chris Rosenquest provided an overview of some of the 20 recommendations. “The first recommendation is to adopt essentially a review panel that is going to continue to work to assist in the development of the implementation of the plan. The second heading is increased staff knowledge and education. Part of the recommendation is to create a Crisis Intervention Team. The third recommendation is to increase department staffing budget and create middle management. That’s something that we are actively in pursuit of right now. The fourth recommendation is that all the staff are required to complete comprehensive training including implicit bias training. The fifth recommendation is to increase workforce diversity by establishing a recruiting program that identifies and focuses on underrepresented populations. Again this is something that we’re actively pursuing.”
The resolution for final approval and adoption of the plan was before the Common Council Wednesday evening. Ward 2 Democrat Mike Kelly offered amendments that he characterized as minor adjustments to the city’s response to the plan. “I would not recommend any changes to the panel’s recommendations. I think they have worked very very hard over many many months to do a wonderful job of presenting some solid ideas for us. The task then for the city is to implement these ideas and that’s where I would like to suggest some minor changes to our responses.”
His revisions included changes such as adjusting wording to create greater engagement and the potential for shared services with surrounding municipalities.
Ward 5 Democrat Patrick McFarlin looked to future responsibilities for a new panel that will be formed from members of the Public Safety Citizens Review panel. “We will create by formal resolution a working group of community advocates to support the progress of the plan. One of the things I’d like that working group to do would be to evaluate other municipalities’ responses to the Governor’s Executive 203. I guess it doesn’t require a modification right now. But I would be interested if that group would be sort of evaluating what other municipalities are doing and maybe making recommendations off those as well.”
The plan was approved unanimously. The plan, the city’s resolution and certifying documents will be submitted to the state Division of Budget.