Suffolk advocates demand more than 'baby steps' be taken in county's police reform plan

The police reform group gathered at the Suffolk Executive's Office Building, singing and chanting for their cause. It comes after they took the weekend to digest the more than 1,000 pages of recommendations released as part of the state mandate for reforms.

News 12 Staff

Mar 16, 2021, 1:54 PM

Updated 1,124 days ago

Share:

The clock is ticking for Nassau and Suffolk to submit final police reform plans, as Suffolk advocates rallied in Hauppauge to have more input on the final plan.
The police reform group gathered at the Suffolk Executive's Office Building, singing and chanting for their cause. It comes after they took the weekend to digest the more than 1,000 pages of recommendations released as part of the state mandate for reforms.
Overall, the group says the county's plan has some good elements, but they call them "baby steps" and say a lot more could be added.
"Suffolk County's plan, while a step in the right direction, is at times incompressible," says Terryl Dozier, of LI United to Transform Policing. "It lacks the specificity to bring efficiency or enforcement."
Advocates say they are happy the Suffolk plan mentions the use of body cameras, changes the rules surrounding traffic stops and mentions partnering police officers with mental health workers. However, they say it doesn't include a full civilian complaint review board with subpoena power.
Dozier also says the emergency mental health crisis response plan is vague.
"Which calls will require a joint response from mental health professionals and police officers, and which calls will fall squarely in the terrain of law enforcement response? Leaves community members only left to wonder -- which calls are going to who?" says Dozier.
In terms of it's mental health approach, Suffolk police told News 12 it'll be handled in a three-tier response:
· 911 operators will receive additional training to recognize a person experiencing a mental health crisis. If the call does not involve the person harming themselves or others, and it's appropriate, the call will be transferred to Family Service League to speak with a social worker in attempt to provide needed resources. For responses requiring a police response, the SCPD will respond with a Mobile Crisis Team when the team is available.
· Establish a Data Driven Hub and Working Group with mental health professionals. COPE officers will be identifying individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues who are high utilizers of police services. The working group will consist of SCPD and mental health professionals who will proactively reach out to those individuals in hopes of providing them with needed services.
· The department will expand its Crisis Intervention Training to additional officers to increase to 20 percent of patrol officers trained.
The advocates have submitted their own plan to both Nassau and Suffolk - calling it the "People's Plan."
The final plans are due to the state by April 1.


More from News 12