WHITE PLAINS, NNY — After months of research, public input and planning, Westchester County Executive George Latimer is updating the public on the County’s implementation of the Westchester County Police Reform and Reimagining Task Force’s recommendations. 34 of the 38 recommendations that apply to the County have been implemented, and four are in the process of being implemented.
Those recommendations completed include:
• Increase and diversify recruitment efforts for WCDPS to provide for a more diverse police force
• Provide body cameras to all WCDPS police officers and dash-cams to all WCDPS vehicles
• Train new recruits on Procedural Justice, Cultural Diversity and Bias Related Crimes and expand the training from a few hours to a full week
• Review Westchester County Department of Public Safety’s (WCDPS) social media and expand use for community outreach
• Develop a library of training videos for WCDPS police use
• Increase training for officers transferring to WCDPS
• Develop and implement a WCDPS mobile police app
• Those recommendations in progress of being implemented include:
• Make WCDPS communications available in Spanish
• Create a system of hate crime liaisons at all County’s police departments to respond to hate incidents.
• To date, 33 police departments out of 45 across Westchester County have joined the effort
• Additionally, WCDPS decided to independently develop a policy where non-fatal police involved shootings are investigated by outside entities in partnership with local chiefs and commissioners, forming a County-wide police-involved shooting investigation.
Latimer said: “Today we can confidently say that, through a concerted, collaborative effort involving multiple County departments and agencies, we have successfully and cooperatively implemented nearly all of the recommendations that were put forth by the Police Reform & Reimagining Task Force. We heard where enhancements were needed, and we digested that information into real, tangible ways to adjust how we approach training, community outreach and mental health needs. I applaud the Task Force, the Department of Community Mental Health, the Department Public Safety, the Department of Emergency Services and the Department of Social Services for recognizing that safety is our top priority, and that by working together, we can create a more streamlined crisis intervention system.
Bartlett said: “It has been a tremendously rewarding experience doing the work of the Task Force. I am appreciative that in George Latimer, we have a County Executive who has the vision to imagine how we may collaborate to improve the way we provide law enforcement and mental health services to the people who live in, work in or may visit Westchester County. It is of paramount importance that we are continuing the effort to implement the recommendations of the Task Force in a comprehensive and thoughtful way, taking advantage of the multi-disciplinary talent that we are fortunate to have in the County. It is our sincere hope that we are providing a strong foundation as we continue to work to ensure best practices in the law enforcement and mental health services that the County provides.”
Frazer said: “I applaud County Executive Latimer for having the foresight to initiate reimagining police work in the County. The Task Force allowed police to highlight the important work they are doing, enhance their excellent training programs and strengthen their relationship with the community at large. Crucially, the community has not just seen the Task Forces’ recommendations on paper, but is now seeing many of those recommendations implemented and in action.”
DCMH Michael Orth said: “We are greatly appreciative of the County Departments of Public Safety and Emergency Services, local law enforcement, and our community partners for their collaboration in developing a crisis system that is responsive to the behavioral health needs of our residents. It is Westchester’s priority to make the right level of service for any person experiencing crisis in the most expeditious way possible. Under the leadership of County Executive Latimer, Project Alliance provides essential training, services, and strengthens our collaboration in our effort to create a seamless system of crisis intervention and diversion here in Westchester. Whenever possible, a behavioral health emergency should be met with a behavioral health response.”
The task force, chaired by prominent Westchester residents Mayo Bartlett, Esq. and Leroy Frazer, Esq., was comprised of County and local Law Enforcement professionals, clergy representatives, criminal justice and police reform advocates, human rights professionals, and public servants to develop a blueprint for new policing strategies and to highlight policies currently in place by WCDPS.
Department of Public Safety Commissioner Tom Gleason said: “Here in Westchester County, we have been proactive and ahead of the curve in many areas, including our training in Procedural Justice, Implicit Bias, De-escalation, Duty to Intervene and Crisis Intervention, to name a few. And, although we already had policies and procedures in place that incorporated many of the Task Force recommendations, we are always open to looking at possible ways to improve upon what we do. We have looked at all of the task force recommendations and implemented many of the ideas to enhance our training, policies and procedures.”
Deputy Commissioner of Planning Blanca Lopez said: “The Police Reform and Reimagining Task Force was fortunate to be led by two outstanding co-chairs and supported by six committed County government professionals who served as staff liaisons throughout this process. I thank the County Executive for selecting us to participate and contribute to this formidable task not just during the development of the recommendations, but also through its implementation phase. A lot of time and hard work has been invested and we are proud to present to the public how Westchester County is reimagining policing.”
The Task Force formed six working groups: Community Engagement, Qualification and Recruitment, Training and Equipment, Policies and Procedures, and Accountability and Transparency. Following its extensive work – which included public hearings, countless work sessions and insightful discussion on the serious issues at hand – the task force released a report organized in three main sections:
1) Background and structure of this task force
2) Reports detailing the work, process, recommendations and overall findings
3) A description of the 51 recommendations organized based on the level of government to which they must be referred for action – opportunities for administrative action by the County Executive, recommendations for the County’s Board of Legislators, and recommendations for action by New York State.
Members of the Task Force, chaired by Bartlett and Frazer, included:
Horace Anderson Jr.
Kenneth Chamberlain Jrr.
Detective David Clarke
Legislator Terry Clements
Reverend Frank Coleman Jr.
Reverend Doris Dalton
Reverend Troy P. DeCohen
Shondra Floyd McClary
Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Gleason
Sergeant Michael Hagan,
Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden
Barbara Hart, Esq.
Damon K. Jones
Ken Jones, Esq.
Lila Kirton, Esq.
Anahaita Kotval, Esq.
Thomas G. Luzio, Esq.
Damon Maher, Esq.
Lawrence Otis Graham, Esq., Deceased
Bedford Police Chief Melvin Padilla
Karine Patiño, Esq.
Reverend Dr. Steven Pogue,
Public Safety Deputy Commissioner Terrance Raynor
Tejash Sanchala, Esq.
Robyn Schlesinger, Esq.
Legislator Colin Smith
Reverend Dr. Verlin Williams
Staff Liaisons included:
Blanca Lopez, Deputy Commissioner of Planning, Team Leader
Crystal Collins, Director of Policy and Programs: Faith Based Partnerships and Urban Affairs
Copernicus Crane, Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Operations
Peri Kadanoff Esq., Executive Director, Solid Waste Commission
Sheralyn Pulver Esq., Chief Administrator, Probation Department
Jason Whitehead Esq., Senior Assistant County Attorney, Law Department.
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