Leg. Colin Smith chairs Public Safety Meeting on Police Reform

White Plains, NY — The Westchester County Board of Legislators has begun its formal review of the County's Police Reform and Reimagining Task Force report, with plans to adopt a police reinvention document by March 22.

The review is being led by the Board's Committee on Public Safety, which met Wednesday to hear from Task Force co-chairs Mayo Bartlett and Leroy Frazer.

Public Safety Committee Chair Colin Smith (D - Cortlandt, Peekskill, Yorktown) said Wednesday's meeting is just the beginning. The review will include weekly Public Safety Committee meetings as well as a chance for the public to comment on the report by mail and email as well as during a Webex teleconference public input session on Wednesday, March 10 at 7 p.m. (Details about how to participate can be found at the end of this document.)

Under an Executive Order from Governor Cuomo, all municipalities statewide must adopt a police reform and reinvention plan to be certified by the State by April 1.

Smith said, "We are extremely cognizant of the Governor's timeline for adoption. We are also cognizant of the opportunity we have to build on the outstanding work of our Public Safety Department to make policing in Westchester County better, more equitable and more modern.”

Smith added, “This is only the first step in an ongoing process -- a blueprint for structural and systemic change in the recruitment, training and accountability measures used by our law enforcement agencies. Establishing new processes and enacting legislation will take time. But the frank and cooperative efforts of community members, law enforcement, lawmakers and other public officials that produced this report will be a model for us going forward.”

Board Chairman Ben Boykin (D - White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison), said, "The historic moment that we find ourselves in, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the public outcry over his death and the deaths of so many others, has presented us with a rare opportunity. It's a moment we must seize to make us all better. I'm gratified that the work of this Task Force has been so broad and so cooperative, and I am sure Legislator Smith and the Public Safety Committee's review will be similarly broad and cooperative. In the end I know we will adopt a plan that will make Westchester a better place and stand as an example that positive change is possible through cooperation and good will."

Among the recommendations in the Task Force report are: implicit bias and intercultural competency training for law enforcement personnel; formal review of the County Department of Public Safety's use of social media for branding and community outreach; the possible creation of community liaisons; increased multi-lingual communications; training in implicit bias and restorative justice for School Resource Officers; joint de-escalation training with the Department of Correction; increased Police Academy training in procedural justice, cultural diversity and bias-related crimes; creation of a County Office of Police Accountability; and more.

The Public Safety Committee's Public Comment Session on the Westchester County Police Reform and Reimagining Task Force Report will be held on Wednesday, March 10, 7 p.m.

Here's how to participate:

Read the Westchester County Police Reform and Reimagining Task Force report at: https://www.westchestergov.com/images/stories/pdfs/policereformreport.pdf

Watch archived video of Wednesday's Public Safety Committee meeting at: http://westchestercountyny.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=571

(PICTURED ABOVE: Leg. Colin Smith chairs Public Safety Meeting on Police Reform)