MASSENA — Massena Mayor Timmy J. Currier says a mandate by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to publicly meet with people in their communities and reinvent policing strategies has already been taking place for decades in the village.
The governor signed an executive order, named the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, which was passed by the state Legislature. It mandates the community meetings and reinvention of policing strategies.
Police forces throughout the state must develop a plan by April 1, 2021 to be eligible for continued state funding. The municipality that oversees the law enforcement agency must certify, adopt and enforce the plan as a local law or risk losing future funding for their police department.
The plan must address the law enforcement agency’s use of force, crowd management, community policing, implicit bias awareness and de-escalation training, restorative justice practices, community outreach, a transparent citizen complaint procedure and other issues specific to each community.
Mr. Currier, who retired as chief of police, said he was confident that policies and procedures that had been developed in Massena over the decades, including during his tenure and the tenure of current chief Adam J. Love addressed the issues that were of concern to the governor.
He said community engagement and managing relationships with the community have been a hallmark of the Massena Police Department over the years.
“I’m really confident where we are. We take this very seriously,” Mr. Currier said.
However, he said, while he was very concerned about racism in the country, he felt that there should have been input before the governor signed the mandate.
“We have a number of concerns,” he said. “I’m not suggesting it’s not a serious issue. I’m very concerned about racism in this country. I’m really concerned about police brutality.”
But, the mayor said, he was concerned that the mandate was rushed through quickly and put in place without any comment, debate or discussion.
“We should be able to have discussions” about the best ways to reform the criminal justice system, he said.
He said money could have been better spent through areas such as education and community involvement.
“That’s a really important conversation to have,” Mr. Currier said.
He said many people, himself included, have been disgusted by some of the actions they’ve seen between police and community members. He said there were good officers and bad officers and “by and large, they’re doing a good job under difficult circumstances.”
For instance, he said, law enforcement has taken over in areas where they were not qualified, such as mental health and child protective services, and were asked to do those tasks on the night shifts and weekends.
“They’re not trained in it and they’re not qualified and it’s not a recipe that deals a very good result,” he said.