Southampton Announces State-Mandated Group to Examine Police Practices

Southold Town Seeks Members for Similar Committee

Back on June 12, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a series of executive orders aimed at reforming policing throughout the state, in the wake of unprecedented nationwide protests after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis May 25.

Among those bills was the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, which requires local police agencies to work with their communities to review their policing policies “to promote community engagement, to foster trust, fairness, and legitimacy, and to address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color.”

“It’s simple. This is something that has to be done,” said Mr. Cuomo as he announced the bill. “There is no trust between the community and the police. If there is no trust, the relationship doesn’t work.”

“The only way to do it is to get to the table and have everyone say their piece, community by community,” he said.

Mr. Cuomo said each law enforcement agency and its community must prepare a report by April 1, or they will not be eligible for state funding.

In mid-August, Southampton Town took the first step toward meeting this requirement by creating a Community Law Enforcement Review Committee (CLERC), “made up of members of the Town Board, Police Department, Town Attorney’s Office and respected members of the community.”

“CLERC will undertake a comprehensive review of current police force deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, practices, and develop a plan relative to current practices, continued modernization, innovation and modifications,” according to the town. “The new committee will help the Town Southampton review police practices including the “use of force”, to ensure that our protocols were optimal, unbiased, and respectful of human dignity.   It follows an internal review of the department procedures that was started several years ago.”

The new Committee will include:

  • Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman
  • Town of Southampton Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni  
  • Town of Southampton Chief of Police Steven Skrynecki
  • Southampton Town Attorney James Burke  
  • Town of Southampton Deputy Town Attorney Christine J. Preston 
  • Town of Southampton Lt. James Kiernan  
  • Chairperson Town of Southampton Anti-Bias Committee Chairperson
  • Kevin MacDonald, Hampton Bays Citizen Advisory Committee  
  • Pastor Keith Iovino Blaze Church, Flanders 
  • Minerva Perez President of OLA 
  • Fr. Constantine Lazarakis 
  • Rev. Tisha Williams 
  • Member (TBD) Shinnecock Tribal Council 
  • Bradley Magill Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office 
  • Public Defender Attorney (TBD) 
  • Lisa Votino Community Activist 
  • Member(TBD) Local chapter of NAACP

Southold Town is also accepting resumes for interested community members to be appointed to its Southold Community Joint Justice Review and Reform Task Force to assist the town board “in reviewing and developing current policies and procedures associated with agencies associated with the justice system and identify and recommend best practices.”

According to Southold Town, the duties of committee members include reviewing current policies and procedures of agencies associated with the justice system and identifying and recommending best practices, conducting focus groups for community members, especially those who have had interactions with the town’s justice system, engage the community in public discourse and incorporate input and consultations with experts in the justice system and make recommendations for improving equality to policing and administering justice

The task force will include two Town Board members, six community members; and six community leaders with no less than one bilingual (English and Spanish) member. The position is unsalaried.  

Interested applicants should submit their resumes, with the name of the committee written on the front, to Elizabeth Neville, Town Clerk, Town Hall, PO Box 1179, Southold, New York or via email to E.Neville@town.southold.ny.us and Lynda.rudder@town.southold.ny.us by August 21, 2020. 

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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