Activists file 'People's Plan' for Nassau police reform
Members of community groups who had been collaborating with Nassau County to reform its police department on Thursday released their own proposal, called "The People's Plan," with recommendations to change county police practices.
A 310-page document includes 12 major areas for reform, including the county police department's handling of mental health crises, civilian and internal complaints, traffic stops and search warrants.
It also calls for creation of a county Office of Police Inspector General as well as more anti-bias training and mental health checks for officers.
Frederick Brewington, a civil rights attorney and one of the authors, called the plan "a thoughtful, detailed approach to police reform."
"This is how the governor had envisioned it [reforms] would happen -- not from the top down but from a broad base in the community on how we want to be able to interact with our police," Brewington said.
After the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis last May, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued an executive order asking each police agency in the state to evaluate practices including use of force, crowd management, bias training and response to citizen complaints, or risk the loss of state funds.
The order requires each agency to submit proof they've modernized their policies. County and town lawmakers must approve the plans, and the municipalities must submit their plans by April 1.
On Tuesday, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder filed a 395-page police reform plan with the county legislature.
The administration's plan includes detailed proposals for improving collection of racial and ethnic data from motorist traffic stops and implementing a body camera program for county police.
It also contains initiatives to diversify county police ranks and boost outreach to minority communities.
In letters to community advocates and county legislators, Curran, a Democrat, described her her plan as a draft and said the administration was waiting to consider The People's Plan.
On Thursday, Curran spokesman Michael Fricchione said the community advocates' "presentation was thoughtful and passionate. Clearly, these advocates for reform spent a lot of time on their plan. We need to review it thoroughly and give it full consideration. We believe at the end of this process many of our reforms will align."
Tracey Edwards, NAACP Long Island regional director, said she believed the plan the Curran administration submitted "goes to show how much we still have to do to achieve real structural reform."
"I call on the legislators to step up and work with the community so we can truly achieve police reform that is going to help all communities," Edwards said.
Brewington and Edwards were among about two dozen advocates who resigned from a community panel appointed by the Curran administration to work with the police department on reform plans to submit to the state.
The advocates said they were frustrated the administration was not addressing their ideas.
They also complained that an initial version of Curran's reform proposal was discussed in a legislative hearing on Jan. 7 before the community groups got the chance to review it.
Another legislative hearing on police reform is scheduled for Wednesday in Mineola.
"We want to hear from all of the parties interested in police reform," said county Legis. Denise Ford (D-Long Beach), public safety committee chairwoman.
"We are going through what we know right now of the plans," said Ford, who caucuses with majority Republicans. "For me, I just want to hear from all groups. They may bring up something none of us have ever considered."
Ford said "there will be other hearings after next week as well."
The People's Plan was written by representatives of three major advocacy groups: Long Island Advocates for Police Accountability; Long Island United to Transform Policing and Community Safety; and United for Justice in Policing Long Island.
ACTIVISTS’ PLAN FOR NASSAU POLICE REFORM
The People’s Plan, introduced by a coalition of community groups, recommends:
- Creation of a new 911 emergency call system that allows unarmed crisis responders and mental health providers to join in on some crisis calls.
- Collection and publishing of racial and ethnic data on traffic stops, and ending traffic stop searches without a signed warrant. Require officers to provide more of their identifying information during traffic stops such as name, rank and command.
- Development of an Office of Police Inspector General that is well-funded and independent.
- Implementation of policies and practices to ensure the mental well-being of police officers.
- Removing School Resource Officers from schools, and use the funding to create youth programing.
- Creation of a Nassau County task force that will continue to evaluate the equity and safety of state-mandated police reforms.
Source: Long Island Advocates for Police Accountability; Long Island United to Transform Policing & Community Safety; and United for Justice in Policing Long Island.