CHATHAM—The Village of Chatham’s Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative has begun a comprehensive review of its local police department.
The review is mandated by Governor Andrew Cuomo in an executive order that requires all local governments with a police department to develop and enact a policing reform plan.
The plan is to include any modifications and innovations to current police deployments, policies and procedures based on the specific public safety needs of the community. The governor’s order calls for the plan to also include policies and procedures that promote trust, fairness, accountability and transparency, and to reduce any racial disparities in policing.
Chatham Mayor John Howe has appointed six residents of the village along with two village trustees and two local police officers, who will consult with diverse “focus groups” in the community to develop the plan over the next four months.
Members of the Collaborative are: Iris Waddell and Gary Gelfenbien (co-chairs); Adrienne Morrell; Michael Richardson; Lisa Light Rugen; Katherine Stoessel; Village Trustee Jaime Boehme; Village Trustee Pete Minahan; Chatham Police officers Joseph Alessi and John Myers.
Several focus groups have been identified to engage the community in meaningful conversations about policing within the village and also reimagine ways to provide public safety. Each of these focus groups are to report on their particular needs as they pertain to public safety and also their respective experiences with the local Police Department.
The focus groups are: youth; seniors; African-American; Latinx; LGBTQ+; mental health; substance addiction and misuse; local businesses. Anyone who resides in the village or regularly shops, worships, or plays there, who is interested in participating in a focus group should contact Mr. Richardson at 845-489-5959.
A draft of the policing reform plan will be offered for public comment to all village residents in February. After consideration of public comments, the plan will be presented to the Village Board of Trustees, which is to ratify the plan and submit it to the governor’s office no later than April 1, 2021.
The next meeting of the Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative is scheduled for Tuesday, October 13 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Chatham Fire Station, 10 Hoffman Street.
All meetings are open to the public with face-coverings and six-feet distancing required.
(Notes supplied by Michael Richardson, a member of the Village of Chatham Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative)