Dutchess County’s Police Reform & Modernization Collaborative

Workgroups Hold First Meetings

Poughkeepsie, NY…   As part of Dutchess County’s Police Reform & Modernization Collaborative,  established to create a unified, countywide law enforcement plan with reforms to eliminate racial inequities and address community needs, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro has announced the formation a Community Stakeholder Workgroup and a Municipal Leaders & Police Chiefs Workgroup to guide the process. The County Executive convened each of the workgroups on Tuesday to lay out expectations, set goals, and begin policy discussions.

Following Governor Cuomo’s and President Trump’s executive orders for local police review and enhanced training and policy, Dutchess County moved to create a collaborative approach to work directly with all entities involved. The goal of the Police Reform & Modernization Collaborative is to develop a new law enforcement plan that will include reforms, policies and procedures necessary “to eliminate racial inequities in policing, to modify and modernize policing strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, and to develop practices to better address the particular needs of communities of color to promote public safety, improve community engagement, and foster trust,” as enumerated in the Governor’s Executive Order No. 203, signed on June 12th. Such agreed-upon reforms will be put in place in every participating law enforcement agency.

County Executive Molinaro said, “Every day, our goal should be to ensure that every single person, regardless of race, color, or creed, is afforded equal opportunity and protection under the law. And, while the Governor and the President may have mandated that we do this, we are committed to enacting the real and lasting change the public expects of us. The creation of these workgroups, the hearings we will hold, and the policy we will enact, will not be done just to ‘check a box.’ The changes this Collaborative makes will go a long way to improving the relationship between the public, and the police officers who are committed to keeping us all safe.”

County Executive Molinaro has appointed Emergency Response Deputy Commissioner of Emergency Response Ken Roman, who has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience with the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department, to lead the Police Reform & Modernization Collaborative.

Deputy Commissioner Roman said, “Our objective is to guide this group to work more effectively and efficiently toward the shared goal of creating a fairer and safer future for all. I think we’re going to be a model for the state of New York.   I look forward to the work we will do, and all that we’ll accomplish over the next few months.”

The Municipal Leaders & Police Chiefs Workgroup includes the police chiefs and members from every law enforcement agency in Dutchess County, as well as every mayor and supervisor from local municipalities and the District Attorney and Public Defender. The Community Stakeholder group includes community activists, interested non-profit and faith-based organizations, local college leadership, and county and elected officials, including members of the County Legislature, District Attorney’s office, Public Defender, and members of the judiciary.

Dutchess County Sheriff Butch Anderson said, “The Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office and all law enforcement agencies in Dutchess County have been working diligently to update and improve existing policies and procedures for our Police Modernization Plan. We ALL strive to get better every day.  Our goal at the end of this process is to have improved, modernized police practices and to foster stronger relationships with our communities. Everyone involved in this process has one common goal, become better and stronger as a community.”

East Fishkill Supervisor Nick D’Alessandro said, “Working together, across both municipal and party lines, will ensure we emerge from this process with a fair, effective and strong policy. I’m excited to work with our police agencies and various community organizations on this project and I’m confident that we’ll be a stronger community because of it.”

Town of Hyde Park Supervisor and President of the Dutchess County Mayors & Supervisors Association, Aileen Rohr said, “Dutchess County municipalities are embracing the work of police reform to make our communities safe, equitable and fair for all. We are pleased to collaborate with our County Executive, all sectors of law enforcement, and our community stakeholders to forge a practical and comprehensive path to achieve the goals articulated set forth at the State level.

County Executive Molinaro continued, “Those individuals who make up the stakeholder group represent many different groups and organizations and offer a good cross section of our community. We want to hear from everyone, and part of the stakeholders’ responsibility will be to speak with others in the community to collect ideas and suggestions for what kinds of policies should be enacted.”

The Police Reform & Modernization Collaborative will next meet in two weeks to discuss and review the use of force policies currently in effect throughout police agencies in Dutchess County.

Governor Cuomo has given a deadline of April 1, 2021 for local governments to enact these police reforms, however, due to the immediacy of the issue, County Executive Molinaro has set the Collaborative the goal of finishing this process by November 1, 2020.