GLENVILLE — The committee working on a policing reform plan for the town of Glenville is seeking public input as it gets closer to creating a plan to submit to the state ahead of an April 1 deadline.
The committee, headed by Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle and Police Chief Stephen V. Janik, hopes to complete a draft plan by March 3 for submission to the Town Board, and have the Town Board review it and approve it at the March 17 Town Board meeting, Koetzle said.
Glenville, like every municipality in New York state with a local law enforcement agency, has to complete a reform plan under an executive order Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued last June. The goal is that police agencies come to grips with any issues of racially biased policing within the agency, and seek to improve police/community relations.
“Your responses will be critical to our mission of identifying strategies for effective policing standards and will be used to help guide the committee’s work,” the committee said in releasing the survey this week. The survey is available on the town website under the “News” tab.
The survey asks such questions as how safe people generally feel in Glenville, and whether they think there are parts of the community that need more police attention. It asks about the public’s perception of police and the reasons for that perception, but not directly about whether there is perceived racial bias. Both residents and non-residents can fill out the anonymous survey.
Statistical tabulations of arrest data from recent years shows that Black people were arrested at a disproportionate rate to the town population — they were 26 percent of all arrests. Many of those arrests appear to be of people shopping in Glenville but coming from other places. Seventy percent of the Black individuals who were arrested had been detained at a store for shoplifting, according to 2019 data provided by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Broken down, the report found that Glenville police made 381 arrests in 2019, of which 250 (65 percent) were white suspects, 99 (26 percent) were Black, and 25 (6.5 percent) were Hispanic. Among the arrests of Black individuals, 70 percent were for shoplifting, and 14 percent were for marijuana or drug charges. Of the arrests of white people, 33 percent were for shoplifting.
In a report from the committee, Janik wrote that the shoplifting arrests were generally due to calls from chain stores like Walmart, Target or one of the town’s supermarkets, where employees or security had observed a larceny and usually detained a suspect.
When those “reactive” arrests are subtracted from the total, Janik reported that white people accounted for 79.5 percent of the remaining arrests, Black people for 13.8 percent, and 6.7 percent fell into other racial categories.
The percentages are similar for other years going back through at least 2015, according to Janik’s report.
Elsewhere in the region, 30 percent of the people arrested by Niskayuna police are Black, according to a consultant helping Niskayuna with its police reform effort. Many of those arrested appeared not to be Niskayuna residents. Like Glenville, Niskayuna has a small Black population, but has shopping destinations that attract people from outside the towns.