SCHENECTADY COUNTY — The possible implementation of body cameras and the construction of adult and juvenile interview rooms are just two of several adopted Schenectady County Sheriff Department reform initiatives.
The Schenectady County Legislature voted 13-0 Tuesday evening to approve the county Sheriff Department’s police reform plan. Legislator Philip Fields, D-Schenectady, was absent and Legislator Brian McGarry, R-Duanesburg, Princetown, Rotterdam, Delanson, was excused.
No legislators commented on the plan or raised questions before voting.
“Sheriff [Dominic] Dagostino’s comprehensive plan builds on the programs, trainings and community engagement policies that the sheriff and his team instituted and practiced long before they were mandated by the state,” said County Manager Rory Fluman before the meeting. “As the Sheriff’s Office continues to engage the community and respond to their changing needs, we will work together with the county Legislature to provide the support and services our communities deserve and depend on.”
The plan was created in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order requiring police departments to review their policies and procedures to determine how to better serve their communities after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers last year. The executive order stipulates that departments must submit a plan to the state by April 1 or risk the possibility of losing state and federal funding.
Not including the correctional facility, the Sheriff Department’s budget was just under $5.3 million. Of that, over $130,000 is state funding. The department has 21 officers, of which 40% are minorities, according to the report.
The sheriff’s plan included:
- Seeking law enforcement accreditation through the state Division of Criminal Justice Services
- Being more accessible to the public via social media platforms
- Continuing to partner with UCC 911 and Northern Rivers Mobile Crisis on mental health calls
- Enhancing de-escalation training
- Continuing to work with Jamal Muhammad on the Youth Support Life Network to strengthen violence reduction and prevention initiatives
- Construct an adult and juvenile interview room with recording technology
- Research the use of body-worn cameras for officers
Dagostino said officers are continuously receiving training on subjects like implicit bias. He also said the department has put contact information on its social media pages so people know how to get a hold of the department and file complaints. He said the department has also publicized information regarding cases in the county on its social media but that is on a case-by-case basis.
The committee that oversaw the creation of the plan, including county and town officials, school district officials and members of various organizations. Dagostino said “some people volunteered, some were asked” to be a part of the committee.
Because Dagostino is an independently elected official he will be responsible for implementing the plan and its oversight, said Erin Roberts, the director of public communications for the county.