Mayor, Procedural Justice Committee Co-Chairs to Facilitate Public Meeting on Police Reforms

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison and the co-chairs of Poughkeepsie Procedural Justice Committee will host a public meeting to get feedback to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order pertaining to policing and enhanced training and policies.

The virtual meeting will take place from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27. People can register to speak and/or listen at http://bit.ly/pokpolicereform. The public will have up to three minutes each to share their experiences and make suggestions. Those who would like to participate in the virtual forums must register prior to the event’s start time.

Earlier this month, Mayor Rolison named Common Council member Yvonne Flowers and Bishop Debra Gause co-chairs of the Procedural Justice Committee and asked the committee to review the executive order, to obtain public input and to make recommendations to the mayor and Common Council. City of Police Chief Tom Pape will be among those listening to the participants in the forum, in addition to members of the Procedural Justice Committee.

“We are greatly looking forward to this forum,” said Mayor Rob Rolison. “The Procedural Justice Committee is in a great position to listen to the public’s concerns and views about policing and help the city as we formulate our response to the governor.”

Last year, the city formed the Procedural Committee — which includes police officers, other city officials and members of the public — to address community concerns related to police issues.

In mid-June, Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 203 — the “New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative” — requiring local police agencies to develop a plan and address policies, procedures, practices and deployment, including but not limited to the use of force. Governments with police agencies must adopt a plan by April 1, 2021, to be eligible for future state funding.

To keep the public better informed about these matters, the city has created a webpage that provides pertinent information about the governor’s executive order and offers other ways for the public to give feedback, https://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/policecollaborativeplan/

Mayor Rolison Names Council Member Flowers, Bishop Gause as Co-Chairs of Procedural Justice Committee

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison announced today that Common Council member Yvonne Flowers and Bishop Debra Gause will co-chair the City’s Procedural Justice Committee, which is reviewing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203 pertaining to policing and enhanced training and policies.

The city also has created a webpage to keep the public informed of the committee’s progress, to provide pertinent information about the governor’s executive order, and to offer ways for the public to give feedback, https://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/policecollaborativeplan/

Last year, the city formed the Committee — which includes police officers, other city officials and members of the public — to address community concerns related to police issues. In August, the Mayor tasked the committee with developing plans to address the governor’s executive order and to make recommendations for the Mayor and Common Council to consider and act upon.

“We have a truly vibrant committee,” said Mayor Rolison. “It’s an excellent and diverse mix of community leaders, police officials and others who are willing to talk through any concerns and improve communication between the police and the public.”

In mid-June, Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 203 — the “New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative” — requiring local police agencies to develop a plan and address policies, procedures, practices and deployment, including but not limited to the use of force. Governments with police agencies must adopt a plan by April 1, 2021, to be eligible for future state funding.

Over the years, the city Police Department has undertaken an array of training, including in procedural justice, which focuses on the way police interact with the public. The training, in part, emphasizes that treating people with dignity and respect and giving citizens a voice during encounters promotes community trust. City Police also have undertaken implicit bias training, which addresses the automatic association people tend to make between groups of people and stereotypes about those groups.

The Mayor said he has the utmost confidence in Councilwoman Flowers and Bishop Gause to guide the Procedure Justice Committee through this process, pointing to their strong history of community ties and service in Poughkeepsie. Flowers is serving her second consecutive term of the Common Council, and Bishop Gause is the Senior Pastor of Holy Light Pentecostal Church.

 “I have had the pleasure of serving on the Procedural Justice committee for almost a year and enjoy working with the police officers and community stakeholders on the committee as we strive to continue to improve community and police relations in the City of Poughkeepsie,” Council member Flowers said. “I am looking forward to working with the committee in reviewing the Governor’s Executive Order on police reform and discussing how we can implement additional policies and procedures within our police department that will continue to promote community trust, transparency and accountability.”

“I think it is important for us to come together, sitting at an honest table and speaking truth to each other. We have to look at what is, we have to look at what was, we have to look at both of those to decide where we want to go,” said Bishop Gause. “People are going to have to talk freely, but also listen to each other to get to the bottom of things before we decide what changes may need to be made.”

City of Poughkeepsie Police Form Partnership With Mental Health of America of Dutchess County

The City of Poughkeepsie and Mental Health America of Dutchess County announced a pilot program today under which a behavioral health professional will partner with a police officer during shifts in order to broaden response services.

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison and Andrew O’Grady, chief executive officer of Mental Health America, said this partnership will bring a significant benefit to the community.

“We recognize that our police officers respond to more than just reports of criminal activity,” said Mayor Rolison. “They are first responders who have to answer all sorts of calls, and many of them involve mental-health issues.”

The Mayor praised City Administrator Marc Nelson for bringing the idea forward.

 “This partnership with Mental Health America of Dutchess County will improve outcomes and provide a gateway to non-police services and help where it is needed, in real time,” said Nelson.  “The program will utilize non-personally identifiable data to actually measure community benefit. The whole idea is to address root problems in order to avoid a cycle of failure that often occurs when people are arrested and incarcerated.”

“We are excited to take this bold step with the City of Poughkeepsie,” said O’Grady. “We believe such alliances are going to grow, as communities look for more comprehensive approaches to how police officers handle cases involving mental illness and drug addiction.”

This partnership augments another one the city created with Dutchess County. Launched in October 2017, the Behavioral Evaluation & Assistance Team (BEAT) is a joint venture between City Police and the Dutchess County’s Department of Behavioral & Community Health. As a result, the city has significantly increased the number of personal interactions with individuals and have rendered more assistance.

“Our department continues to embrace ways to serve the public, to provide safety but also to provide assistance for those who need it,” said Police Chief Tom Pape.

An Intensive Case Manager from Mental Health America will work under the Police Department’s Juvenile Division and will work closely with the BEAT team as well as the Police Department’s Juvenile Division Youth Worker to meet the needs of children and their parents who may be experiencing mental-health-related illnesses. MHA’s social worker also will be able to provide or offer referrals for follow-up services.

Mayor Rolison said he plans to use existing police funds to launch the program at the end of this month and will include more monies for it in his 2021 budget proposal to the Common Council.

City’s Procedural Justice Committee Will Review Governor’s Executive Order on Policing

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison today announced that the city’s Procedural Justice Committee — which includes police officers, other city officials and members of the public – will be reviewing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order pertaining to policing and enhanced training and policies and will make recommendations for the Mayor and Common Council to consider and act upon.

In mid-June, Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 203 — the “New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative” — requiring local police agencies to develop a plan and address policies, procedures, practices and deployment, including but not limited to the use of force.

Governments with police agencies must adopt a plan by April 1, 2021, to be eligible for future state funding.

“Fortunately,” Mayor Rolison said, “I know the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department is considerably ahead on these reform efforts and with input from others, will continue to enact measures that are in the public’s best interest.”

Last year, the City established the Procedural Justice Committee to address community concerns related to police issues. The Police Department also has completed procedural justice training, which focuses on the way police interact with the public. The training, in part, emphasizes that treating people with dignity and respect and giving citizens a voice during encounters promotes community trust. City Police also have undertaken implicit bias training, which addresses the automatic association people tend to make between groups of people and stereotypes about those groups.

 “The Department has put considerable time and effort into these training initiatives,” said Chief Police Tom Pape. The chief added that as other police departments in the Hudson Valley address the governor’s executive order, the Poughkeepsie Police Department will lend instructors to the county effort to get Dutchess County police officers trained in procedural justice and implicit bias.

The City also has made a significant investment in body cameras for police officers, allocating $510,120 to purchase the cameras and supportive equipment, such as docking stations. The cameras are providing more transparency about how officers operate in the field — and about the situations to which they respond, Chief Pape said.

The Police Department also has enhanced its complaint process by improving accessibility and by developing a new easy-to-use online reporting tool. Forms can be used to file civilian complaints and for commendations for the actions of officers. Submitted forms will be reviewed by a member of the command staff and assigned to the appropriate supervisor for action. The forms are available here.

“We welcome the Governor’s executive order, recognizing that a collaborative approach is necessary to ensure there is trust between the police and the communities they serve,” said Mayor Rolison. “Our police officers have shown they are up to the task.”