Monday, July 26
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Suffolk County Executive Bellone Announces Comprehensive Policing Plan Under Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative

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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has unveiled a comprehensive policing plan under New York State’s Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative. The reform plan seeks cultural change in the Suffolk County Police Department, with enhanced civilian oversight, increased accountability and transparency, and expanded community policing and engagement programs.

The reform plan alters the relationship between the police and the community by upgrading command policy relating to police advancement; community engagement; training, and duty to intervene. Key areas of impact include situations involving mental health, traffic stops, and warrants, along with improved data collection and dissemination.

“Suffolk County has developed an historic policing plan that serves as a model for how to produce real reform, enhance transparency and accountability, and foster community trust,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “This plan is a reflection of the input that was received – a blueprint for lasting change – and will serve as a roadmap to build upon the progress we have already made.”

In September of last year, the County Executive created a Task Force in response to New York State’s Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative which solicited input from individuals and organizations across the county. The Task Force examined current policies and procedures and conducted a series of virtual public outreach meetings, in addition to one-on-one stakeholder meetings that established a direct line of communication between the Task Force and the community throughout the process.

There was a total of 10 General Task Force meetings and 14 subcommittee meetings, covering various topics including recruitment, police officer accountability, traffic stops, use of force, mental health response, community policing, arrests and warrants and departmental oversight. Additionally, the task force held eight public listening sessions with a total of 1,218 community members registered to attend and listen and 296 community members offering verbal input, all of which contributed to the development of the comprehensive policing plan.

The reinvention plan, developed in collaboration with the County’s Police Reform task force and Co-Facilitators Deputy County Executive Vanessa Baird-Streeter and Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman, focuses on seven major points for reform; Training and Continuing Education, Recruitment and Staffing, Community Policing, Traffic Stops, Arrests and Warrants, Mental Health Response and Police Systems, Accountability and Body Cameras.

Community Policing
In an effort to improve relations between the community and the officers who are sworn to protect, the reinvention and reform plan seeks to improve community engagement by applying the principles of the Procedural Justice Model. The Task Force proposes a series of targeted reforms to the Department’s Digital Engagement and Communications Strategy, to the County’s Language Access Plan, and to replicate the model of the Community Relations Bureau throughout the Department. The new programs include the creation of precinct level advisory councils, park walk and talks, requiring patrol officers to attend monthly community meetings, engagement of specialized units, and an improved language access plan, among others.

The precinct level advisory councils will allow the Suffolk County Police Department to effectively address community concerns, foster new relationships with community leaders, expand the community engagement reach of each precinct, create community liaisons to field questions and concerns, and provide clear lines of communication between the Department and the community it serves.

Through the implementation of a Park Walk and Talk (PWT) policy, SCPD officers will have the opportunity to interact directly with residents to improve community-police relations. Officers will be required to do a PWT for one hour every week and will be encouraged to diversify the neighborhoods where they choose to engage. With more than 1,421 patrol officers, this will significantly increase positive interactions between officers and community members.

Police Systems, Accountability and Body Cameras
Currently, as part of a pilot program, a limited number of SCPD Officers wear body cameras. In an effort to increase transparency, civility, and accountability, the reinvention and reform plan proposes that body worn cameras be deployed as standard police worn equipment for all Suffolk County police officers who engage with the public in the course of their professional duties. The cameras would also increase case resolution and evidentiary corroboration, along with providing a significant and effective training tool for police recruits and veteran officers.

A key aspect of the reinvention and reform plan is enhancing civilian oversight of the Suffolk County Police Department through the County’s Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights Commission, an independent agency, would be able to open and review police misconduct cases that allege undue force and bias in police conduct, while the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division would be responsible for investigation.

Once an Internal Affairs investigation is complete, the SCPD will be required to review the complaint with the Humans Rights Commission who will have the opportunity to weigh in on the investigative process and, if deemed appropriate, suggest additional steps to be taken as part of the investigation. Once the findings are finalized, the Human Rights investigator and the Police Department will provide the final determination and actions to be taken to the complainant. Residents will be able to call Suffolk 311 to be connected directly to the unit.

Traffic and Pedestrian Stops
Last year, after an intensive review of traffic stop data, a John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety, Inc. report confirmed that Black and Hispanic drivers are overrepresented in police traffic stops relative to their share of the Suffolk County population. To address these concerns the reform plan calls for enhanced oversight and review of traffic stop data, including the creation of a public traffic stop data dashboard that will function as an online data hub where anyone can easily interact with real data.

The department will also implement the “Safety First Campaign”, a first-of-its-kind initiative on Long Island that will build community trust by promoting road and driver safety, while attempting to avoid placing an additional economic burden on those who are financially disadvantaged. The program provides an opportunity for police officers to provide education to individuals pulled over for minor vehicle equipment failures. This new warning-and-education campaign will provide drivers with a warning for their first equipment violation, instead of a ticketed fine. This warning will be paired with educational resources to highlight the importance of addressing the equipment violation.

Training and Continuing Education
In addition to improved community policing, enhanced accountability through the deployment of body cameras and civilian oversight, and new data driven programs to combat disproportionate traffic stops, the plan calls for increased training in de-escalation, duty to intervene and implicit bias, in addition to integrating community based organizations into academy training.

Mental Health Response
The reform plan calls for an overhaul of the SCPD’s mental health crisis response. The plan calls for the implementation of a three tier approach including 911 Call Diversion, ongoing collaboration with mental health partners, and expansion of Crisis Intervention Training, which has already certified 189 SCPD and 24 Associated Agency officers. The SCPD Communication Section will develop a call diversion procedure to triage mental health 911 calls and divert them to mental health partners to better serve Suffolk residents in need.

Recruitment and Staffing, and Arrests and Warrants
While several reforms to police department recruitment and staffing are already underway, the reform plan also proposes several measures to ensure the police department is reflective of the community at every level. Finally, the plan seeks heightened command staff oversight of warrants.

Statements of support from members of the County’s Reform and Reinvention Task Force:

Presiding Officer Rob Calarco, Minority Leader Kevin McCaffrey, and Suffolk County Legislators Jason Richberg, Tom Donnelly, and Samuel Gonzalez said, “The members of the Suffolk County Police Reform and Reinvention Task Force worked diligently to fulfill the mission and intention of the Governor’s Executive Order by facilitating meaningful dialogue with stakeholders from all levels and putting forth a plan that will implement lasting change in law enforcement. We believe that the plan from the task force will help reinvent policing in a way that will eliminate racial disparities, foster trust between the community and law enforcement, and increase transparency while maintaining the highest level of public safety. We wholeheartedly appreciate the effort that went into creating this plan, and we want to thank each member of the task force for their hard work and commitment to this process. We also wish to thank Deputy County Executives Vanessa Baird-Streeter and Jon Kaiman for their leadership as task force facilitators.”

Tracey Edwards, Long Island Regional Director, NAACP said, “While the process is ongoing and the draft is a working document, Suffolk County led the way by honoring the Executive Order’s charge of collaboration, respecting the diversity of opinions, and valuing each member of the task force’s unique perspectives.”

Noel DiGerolamo, President, Suffolk County PBA said, “On behalf of over 5000 active, retired, associate and affiliate members I am writing to express my support for the draft police reform and reinvention plan produced by the Suffolk County task force. Working collaboratively, the task force reviewed Police Department policy and procedures which have the greatest impact on community relations and interaction. Given this monumental process, the task force members spent hundreds of hours researching, analyzing, and discussing a myriad of issues we felt could be transformed to create a better environment for the Police Department, officers and most critical, the public we serve. The fact that such a diverse group came together with all our preconceptions to formulate one plan in which we are comfortable is a testament to how professional and receptive the task force was conducted. I would like to thank you personally, the Legislature, Suffolk County Police Department and fellow task force members for working diligently to see this plan delivered. It was my pleasure to be included in this undertaking and look forward to the recommended modifications being implemented as we move forward.”

Sharon Webber, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney said, “I, Sharon Weber, Esq., support this collaborative plan in response to Executive Order 203. I believe that it addresses many of the concerns of the community, albeit not all. It is a start. It is forward-looking and reformative, hopefully putting Suffolk County on the path to greater social equity for all of its citizens. I deeply thank all involved for their commitment to be part of the solution.”

Daniel Russo, Administrator, Assigned Counsel Defender Plan of Suffolk County said, “I would like to thank the County Executive and his team for the difficult work of putting this plan together and allowing me the privilege of participating. I would also like to commend Commissioner Hart and her command staff for their efforts at presenting the inner workings of the Police Department. This action plan is a great start at “reimagining” police work. I am impressed at the willingness of the rank and file police who have agreed to work toward implementation of this plan. Thanks to the PBA President for his effort toward this collaboration. Finally, I would like to congratulate my fellow task force members who have given so much of their time to do this difficult and at times painful work. It was truly impressive. Although there is certainly more work to do, this plan makes recommendations for change that will be a model for many other jurisdictions. I am proud to have been a small part of this historic collaboration.”

Sister Sanaa Nadim, Chaplin, Islamic Society of North America said, “I write to commend the important work of this task force. From its inception, this remarkable group of dedicated individuals actively listened and engaged with various communities that we are a part of, live in, and, above all, care deeply for. The outcome of this work is a promise to create structural, systemic, and meaningful change. We strived to push beyond the contours of any imagined limitations. It was my great privilege and honor to serve in this role.”

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said, “During the past several years, the Suffolk County Police Department has embraced and instituted a number of reforms that have formed a foundation that the department continues to build upon. What we have accomplished in this plan, with community member input, is additional reform that is innovative and increases accountability, efficiency, public safety and community trust. I believe this is important step to a more fair and equitable department.”

Chief of the Department Stuart Cameron said, “I firmly believe that in order for our department to succeed we must function as a part of the communities that we serve and not simply work within these communities. To achieve this key objective it is essential that our department continually integrate community input into the fabric of our department, which was precisely what was accomplished through this incredible effort.”

has unveiled a comprehensive policing plan under New York State’s Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative. The reform plan seeks cultural change in the Suffolk County Police Department, with enhanced civilian oversight, increased accountability and transparency, and expanded community policing and engagement programs.

The reform plan alters the relationship between the police and the community by upgrading command policy relating to police advancement; community engagement; training, and duty to intervene. Key areas of impact include situations involving mental health, traffic stops, and warrants, along with improved data collection and dissemination.

“Suffolk County has developed an historic policing plan that serves as a model for how to produce real reform, enhance transparency and accountability, and foster community trust,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “This plan is a reflection of the input that was received – a blueprint for lasting change – and will serve as a roadmap to build upon the progress we have already made.”

In September of last year, the County Executive created a Task Force in response to New York State’s Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative which solicited input from individuals and organizations across the county. The Task Force examined current policies and procedures and conducted a series of virtual public outreach meetings, in addition to one-on-one stakeholder meetings that established a direct line of communication between the Task Force and the community throughout the process.

There was a total of 10 General Task Force meetings and 14 subcommittee meetings, covering various topics including recruitment, police officer accountability, traffic stops, use of force, mental health response, community policing, arrests and warrants and departmental oversight. Additionally, the task force held eight public listening sessions with a total of 1,218 community members registered to attend and listen and 296 community members offering verbal input, all of which contributed to the development of the comprehensive policing plan.

The reinvention plan, developed in collaboration with the County’s Police Reform task force and Co-Facilitators Deputy County Executive Vanessa Baird-Streeter and Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman, focuses on seven major points for reform; Training and Continuing Education, Recruitment and Staffing, Community Policing, Traffic Stops, Arrests and Warrants, Mental Health Response and Police Systems, Accountability and Body Cameras.

Community Policing
In an effort to improve relations between the community and the officers who are sworn to protect, the reinvention and reform plan seeks to improve community engagement by applying the principles of the Procedural Justice Model. The Task Force proposes a series of targeted reforms to the Department’s Digital Engagement and Communications Strategy, to the County’s Language Access Plan, and to replicate the model of the Community Relations Bureau throughout the Department. The new programs include the creation of precinct level advisory councils, park walk and talks, requiring patrol officers to attend monthly community meetings, engagement of specialized units, and an improved language access plan, among others.

The precinct level advisory councils will allow the Suffolk County Police Department to effectively address community concerns, foster new relationships with community leaders, expand the community engagement reach of each precinct, create community liaisons to field questions and concerns, and provide clear lines of communication between the Department and the community it serves.

Through the implementation of a Park Walk and Talk (PWT) policy, SCPD officers will have the opportunity to interact directly with residents to improve community-police relations. Officers will be required to do a PWT for one hour every week and will be encouraged to diversify the neighborhoods where they choose to engage. With more than 1,421 patrol officers, this will significantly increase positive interactions between officers and community members.

Police Systems, Accountability and Body Cameras
Currently, as part of a pilot program, a limited number of SCPD Officers wear body cameras. In an effort to increase transparency, civility, and accountability, the reinvention and reform plan proposes that body worn cameras be deployed as standard police worn equipment for all Suffolk County police officers who engage with the public in the course of their professional duties. The cameras would also increase case resolution and evidentiary corroboration, along with providing a significant and effective training tool for police recruits and veteran officers.

A key aspect of the reinvention and reform plan is enhancing civilian oversight of the Suffolk County Police Department through the County’s Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights Commission, an independent agency, would be able to open and review police misconduct cases that allege undue force and bias in police conduct, while the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division would be responsible for investigation.

Once an Internal Affairs investigation is complete, the SCPD will be required to review the complaint with the Humans Rights Commission who will have the opportunity to weigh in on the investigative process and, if deemed appropriate, suggest additional steps to be taken as part of the investigation. Once the findings are finalized, the Human Rights investigator and the Police Department will provide the final determination and actions to be taken to the complainant. Residents will be able to call Suffolk 311 to be connected directly to the unit.

Traffic and Pedestrian Stops
Last year, after an intensive review of traffic stop data, a John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety, Inc. report confirmed that Black and Hispanic drivers are overrepresented in police traffic stops relative to their share of the Suffolk County population. To address these concerns the reform plan calls for enhanced oversight and review of traffic stop data, including the creation of a public traffic stop data dashboard that will function as an online data hub where anyone can easily interact with real data.

The department will also implement the “Safety First Campaign”, a first-of-its-kind initiative on Long Island that will build community trust by promoting road and driver safety, while attempting to avoid placing an additional economic burden on those who are financially disadvantaged. The program provides an opportunity for police officers to provide education to individuals pulled over for minor vehicle equipment failures. This new warning-and-education campaign will provide drivers with a warning for their first equipment violation, instead of a ticketed fine. This warning will be paired with educational resources to highlight the importance of addressing the equipment violation.

Training and Continuing Education
In addition to improved community policing, enhanced accountability through the deployment of body cameras and civilian oversight, and new data driven programs to combat disproportionate traffic stops, the plan calls for increased training in de-escalation, duty to intervene and implicit bias, in addition to integrating community based organizations into academy training.

Mental Health Response
The reform plan calls for an overhaul of the SCPD’s mental health crisis response. The plan calls for the implementation of a three tier approach including 911 Call Diversion, ongoing collaboration with mental health partners, and expansion of Crisis Intervention Training, which has already certified 189 SCPD and 24 Associated Agency officers. The SCPD Communication Section will develop a call diversion procedure to triage mental health 911 calls and divert them to mental health partners to better serve Suffolk residents in need.

Recruitment and Staffing, and Arrests and Warrants
While several reforms to police department recruitment and staffing are already underway, the reform plan also proposes several measures to ensure the police department is reflective of the community at every level. Finally, the plan seeks heightened command staff oversight of warrants.

Statements of support from members of the County’s Reform and Reinvention Task Force:

Presiding Officer Rob Calarco, Minority Leader Kevin McCaffrey, and Suffolk County Legislators Jason Richberg, Tom Donnelly, and Samuel Gonzalez said, “The members of the Suffolk County Police Reform and Reinvention Task Force worked diligently to fulfill the mission and intention of the Governor’s Executive Order by facilitating meaningful dialogue with stakeholders from all levels and putting forth a plan that will implement lasting change in law enforcement. We believe that the plan from the task force will help reinvent policing in a way that will eliminate racial disparities, foster trust between the community and law enforcement, and increase transparency while maintaining the highest level of public safety. We wholeheartedly appreciate the effort that went into creating this plan, and we want to thank each member of the task force for their hard work and commitment to this process. We also wish to thank Deputy County Executives Vanessa Baird-Streeter and Jon Kaiman for their leadership as task force facilitators.”

Tracey Edwards, Long Island Regional Director, NAACP said, “While the process is ongoing and the draft is a working document, Suffolk County led the way by honoring the Executive Order’s charge of collaboration, respecting the diversity of opinions, and valuing each member of the task force’s unique perspectives.”

Noel DiGerolamo, President, Suffolk County PBA said, “On behalf of over 5000 active, retired, associate and affiliate members I am writing to express my support for the draft police reform and reinvention plan produced by the Suffolk County task force. Working collaboratively, the task force reviewed Police Department policy and procedures which have the greatest impact on community relations and interaction. Given this monumental process, the task force members spent hundreds of hours researching, analyzing, and discussing a myriad of issues we felt could be transformed to create a better environment for the Police Department, officers and most critical, the public we serve. The fact that such a diverse group came together with all our preconceptions to formulate one plan in which we are comfortable is a testament to how professional and receptive the task force was conducted. I would like to thank you personally, the Legislature, Suffolk County Police Department and fellow task force members for working diligently to see this plan delivered. It was my pleasure to be included in this undertaking and look forward to the recommended modifications being implemented as we move forward.”

Sharon Webber, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney said, “I, Sharon Weber, Esq., support this collaborative plan in response to Executive Order 203. I believe that it addresses many of the concerns of the community, albeit not all. It is a start. It is forward-looking and reformative, hopefully putting Suffolk County on the path to greater social equity for all of its citizens. I deeply thank all involved for their commitment to be part of the solution.”

Daniel Russo, Administrator, Assigned Counsel Defender Plan of Suffolk County said, “I would like to thank the County Executive and his team for the difficult work of putting this plan together and allowing me the privilege of participating. I would also like to commend Commissioner Hart and her command staff for their efforts at presenting the inner workings of the Police Department. This action plan is a great start at “reimagining” police work. I am impressed at the willingness of the rank and file police who have agreed to work toward implementation of this plan. Thanks to the PBA President for his effort toward this collaboration. Finally, I would like to congratulate my fellow task force members who have given so much of their time to do this difficult and at times painful work. It was truly impressive. Although there is certainly more work to do, this plan makes recommendations for change that will be a model for many other jurisdictions. I am proud to have been a small part of this historic collaboration.”

Sister Sanaa Nadim, Chaplin, Islamic Society of North America said, “I write to commend the important work of this task force. From its inception, this remarkable group of dedicated individuals actively listened and engaged with various communities that we are a part of, live in, and, above all, care deeply for. The outcome of this work is a promise to create structural, systemic, and meaningful change. We strived to push beyond the contours of any imagined limitations. It was my great privilege and honor to serve in this role.”

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said, “During the past several years, the Suffolk County Police Department has embraced and instituted a number of reforms that have formed a foundation that the department continues to build upon. What we have accomplished in this plan, with community member input, is additional reform that is innovative and increases accountability, efficiency, public safety and community trust. I believe this is important step to a more fair and equitable department.”

Chief of the Department Stuart Cameron said, “I firmly believe that in order for our department to succeed we must function as a part of the communities that we serve and not simply work within these communities. To achieve this key objective it is essential that our department continually integrate community input into the fabric of our department, which was precisely what was accomplished through this incredible effort.”


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