The Common Council Tuesday night voted 7-0 to approve the state mandated police reform plan.
The reform plan fulfills the mandate of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s June 13 executive order requiring all local police agencies in the state to form local committees to look at improving police policies on interacting with the public, particularly minority populations.
The executive order mandated the plans be adopted by local government’s and then sent into the state Division of the Budget by April 1.
Cuomo’s order was issued in the wake of the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, which sparked Black Lives Matter protests throughout the country and locally, including silent protests in Gloversville and Johnstown led by Lashawn Hawkins. Hawkins now operates the nonprofit organization “I Can Breathe And I Will Speak”, which was one of the community organizations involved with crafting Gloversville’s police reform plan. She is also a declared candidate for the city’s council-person-at-large office in November.
The six-point police reform plan is the result of a committee that included the Gloversville Police Department and its chief Tony Clay, Mayor Vince DeSantis, Common Council liaisons Councilman-at-large William Rowback Jr. and 4th Ward Councilwoman Ellen Anadio, the Gloversville Enlarged School District, the Fulton County district attorney and public defender, and a list of local nonprofits, including: Hawkins’ “I Can Breathe And I Will Speak”, the Family Counseling Center, St. Mary’s Mental Health Adult Clinic,, Planned Parenthood and the HFM Prevention Council.
Rowback sponsored the police reform resolution at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting and 2nd Ward Councilman Arthur Simonds seconded the resolution.
These are the six points of the reform plan:
• The city Police Department will look for resources that will reduce police response times and increase police presence throughout Gloversville neighborhoods. This exploration will include the development of a three- to five-year plan to increase the staffing of the Police Department
Measurable Goal: The department will attempt to research and apply for at least one applicable grant program every year.
• City police will work with community resources to address residents that are most in need of additional assistance and connect them with appropriate resources outside of law enforcement.
Measurable Goal: Over the course of a year, the police will identify five people requiring regular police intervention and connect them to other, more appropriate resources.
• City police will continue with the “Neighborhood Engagement Unit” operations to further community policing in the city. The department will focus on community relations that have the potential to close the gap between white survey respondents’ satisfaction ratings for interactions and trust in Officers, with those results from the black and marginalized respondents.
Measurable Goal: The Police Department Neighborhood Engagement Unit will have yearly operations in each ward of the city for a total of at least six operations a year. An online survey will be administered and assessed again after the one-year mark to determine if these actions are having the desired effect.
• The police will develop a mental health collaboration with area resources.
Measurable Goal: The Police Department will establish a monthly meeting with area mental health resources and inquire about filling a position on the community services board.
• The police will focus on maintaining a high level of professionalism while interacting with residents in a positive and respectful way.
Measurable Goals: City police will continue to meet New York State Law Enforcement Accreditation Standards, continue to utilize body worn cameras, and will utilize training and community interaction to improve communication skills. Yearly survey results will be compared to evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies.
• Gloversville Police Department officers will receive specialized training that addresses the community’s concerns and assists them in dealing with a wide range of issues. The training could include: De-escalation of conflicts, “Principled Policing,” implicit bias, diversity and inclusion training, dealing with mental health crisis, defensive and other tactics training to address the changing use of force requirements, domestic violence investigations and abuser accountability.
Measurable Goal: City police will meet New York State Accreditation standards for training and exceed them when possible.
Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter. Jury selection for his trial began Tuesday. On Thursday 3rd-degree murder charges were added against Chauvin.
The council’s Tuesday night meeting was conducted via the video conferencing program Zoom and live streamed to the city’s Facebook page.
Hawkins, who is a declared candidate for the city’s council-person-at-large office in November, issued a social media statement praising the finished plan.
“To Chief Clay, thank you for being open to Real change,” she said. “I’ve seen 5 local reforms, and I’m proud of what we came up with. We should be very proud as a city!”