Westchester legislators approve plan to reform county's police department
Westchester legislators approved a plan to reform the county's police department.
It comes ahead of the state's April 1 deadline for all law enforcement agencies to come up with a plan to rebuild police-community relations.
The Westchester Board of Legislators unanimously approved 51 recommendations Monday night to reform the county's police department in light of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"The goal is to create an equitable model of policing. Particularly how it relates to communities of color," says Legislator Colin Smith.
Smith was on the task force that developed the 177-page report that includes recommendations to create community liaisons, establish an open disciplinary process and create an office of police accountability.
"There is a great demand out there by at least a portion of community for this type of accountability," says Smith.
Sgt. Michael Hagan, president of the Westchester County Police Benevolent Association, says creating an office of police accountability may be unnecessary and costly.
"I think what they are looking for will be very expensive in a county where we can't even patrol our parks during the winter, I think you have to try and prioritize," says Hagan.
The next step is implementation. Some recommendations, like adding training and improving communication, can be done much quicker, while others may take months or even years.
The plan is a blueprint with some recommendations being implemented by Westchester police, with others needing legislative action.
All municipalities with police departments in the state must adopt a police reform plan by April 1.