Shortsighted plan

Ogdensburg police. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

OGDENSBURG — City Council is in the beginning stages of appointing a steering group to lead the city’s police reform efforts.

A police reform plan has been ordered for every New York state police department by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo following continued calls over the last several months for police reform amid the deaths of Black people at the hands of police.

The steering group will largely be comprised of City Manager Stephen P. Jellie, the city’s police chief, the superintendent of schools, a city councilor and one more community leader yet to be determined, according to Mr. Jellie.

Titled New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative and part of the governor’s “Say Their Name” police reform agenda, the governor’s order followed the May 25 killing of 46-year-old Black man George P. Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Reviews are expected to culminate with improvement plans by April 1, in order for agencies to be eligible for state funding next year. Plans must be developed in collaboration with the public through an “open process on policing strategies and tools” and receive public comment before any proposed changes are presented to local municipal bodies for approval.

Plans 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.

“We will set up a process for doing public engagements,” Mr. Jellie said. “We will have town hall meeting, listening sessions, with anybody and everybody. Any faith-based group, community-based group, special interests, political groups, anybody who is a group we will seek to meet with.”

An eventual set of recommendations will be put together, given a public hearing then approved by City Council, Mr. Jellie said.

Mr. Jellie said he wants to take advantage of the fact that every community with a police department is working on this.

“We’re going to engage these communities to see what is being successful and what is not being so successful,” he said.

In St. Lawrence County, he said, he hopes everybody is at least comparing notes so they can stay on the same paths.

“I think the local collaboration piece will be key as we get closer,” he said. “I would like to tell our council, when we present our plan that we have conferred at a minimum with St. Lawrence County and Massena, Canton and Potsdam.”

Mr. Jellie said he wants the first meeting of the steering group to be held before the end of the month. He hopes to present City Council with the group’s plan for how to proceed at the Nov. 9 regular meeting.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

St. Lawrence/Franklin County Editor

Slowly self-propelled. Two-time cancer survivor. Nearly 30-year newspaper veteran.

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