Following the death of George Floyd in police custody last week in Minneapolis, the Westchester County executive is forming a working group to review county police academy polices.
Democratic Westchester County Executive George Latimer took to Facebook live Monday to address his county’s response to both the Floyd death and nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
“I am empaneling today a working group comprised of county and local police professionals, individuals who serve in our Human Rights Commission, on our police board, members of the African-American clergy, justice activists, a working group to review in detail all of the procedures and policies that are used by the county at our County Police Academy to train new police recruits and to provide in-service training for those that are already working in law enforcement, and to establish changes and reforms that are needed to make sure that every police officer, new or old, understands how we avoid and place implicit racism or any bias behavior in the conduct of their duties,” says Latimer.
Westchester County Police Commissioner Thomas Gleason and Deputy Police Commissioner Terence Raynor are part of the working group.
“Also in this group will be Mayo Bartlett, esquire, a prominent African-American lawyer, and Leroy Frazier, also an African-American, a former prosecutor and investigator,” says Latimer.
County residents also are part.
“Their work will culminate in a report with specific recommendations within 30 days, that we would intend to implement, that will help us utilize best practices and send a clear message that our law enforcement community will be at the forefront of reform. That George Floyd shall not have died in vain, that his death will have meaning in the change that it fosters,” Latimer says.
Latimer says the county’s more than 300 sworn officers could be impacted along with recruits.
“The first thing is the recommendations that would come out of the working group are targeted to look at the way we train those that go through our police academy,” says Latimer. “The larger portion of people are the first-time recruits and then, secondarily, we have in-service training for existing police officers all throughout the county.”
He says the county’s Human Rights Commission will create a series of countywide conversations about issues underlying racism and how to go forward as a county.
“Across Westchester yesterday, in New Rochelle, in Hastings, in Peekskill, in Ardsley, men and women marched and rallied and met to protest to call for new policies. They met in peace. Within the bounds of civil discourse in a free democracy,” Latimer says. “They conducted themselves with honor. And the police who worked alongside of them did so as well with honor.”
There were protests over the weekend elsewhere in the Hudson Valley. And the “Times Herald-Record" reports that a Black Lives Matter protest in the city of Middletown in Orange County today drew hundreds of people.