The 21- member panel chaired by Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell includes Sheriff’s Department and local police officials, as well as legislative, county and municipal leaders. The panel was established in August in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203, which requires each of the 500 jurisdictions with police departments in New York State to develop a police reform plan by April 1.
The Putnam County panel met on Tuesday, Sept. 29, with the proceeding livestreamed on the web, and issued its call for community participation.
“I want to thank all of the members of the community who have already submitted questions and comments,” Odell said. “We do believe that this should be a very inclusive discussion and the information and input we receive from the public will be very helpful so that we can complete this task on time.”
There are more than a dozen wide-ranging areas of discussion for police reform and that will need to be considered, Undersheriff Kevin Cheverko said during Tuesday’s meeting. His list included use of force, de-escalation and community-based outreach, among many other topics.
Michael J. Piazza Jr., commissioner of Putnam County’s Department of Social Services and Mental Health, invited all Putnam County residents, particularly those in community and cultural diversity groups, people of color, the Latino and LGBTQIA communities, faith-based groups, veteran’s organizations, schools and mental health consumers, to participate in the discussion.
The email address to sign up is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The county has established a new police review panel website, at www.putnamcountyny.gov/policereviewpanel, where ongoing and updated information about the panel will be posted and maintained.
In the panel discussion on Sept. 15, which is archived on the website, Piazza told a moving story about a man who walked from Yonkers to Yorktown to attend the funeral of a police officer who had helped him when he needed it most.
“That’s the impact community policing can have,” Piazza said. “It was very telling in terms of what it can mean to a community member when a police officer receives the appropriate training.”
Future meetings of the Putnam County Police Review Panel were scheduled for the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month through the end of the year.