Steuben County continues ‘Police Reform Draft Plan Public Comment Session’

Steuben County Sheriff David V. Cole retires

BATH, N.Y. (WETM-TV) – Steuben County police reform committee is releasing some new information about goals they plan to have in place once the plan’s outline is approved.

Steuben’s collaborative efforts began in August 2020 with the community and law enforcement’s best interests and safety in mind. All meetings have and will continue to have members of the community engage with their concerns within the community.

Ninety percent of our stakeholders believe that police in Steuben County are fundamentally honest, with an approximately-80 percent approval rating. Personally, I have been able to understand more clearly the challenges our citizens face daily. This partnership has been enlightening for all of us.

James Allard, Steuben County Sheriff

Steuben County Police Reform goals:

  • Setting up criminal penalties for police officers or peace officer who uses a chokehold that causes serious physical injury or death.
  • Requiring police or peace officers – on or off duty (who discharge their weapon under circumstances where a person could be struck by a bullet)to verbally report the incident within six hours, and file a written report within 48 hours.
  • Police departments must submit annual reports on arrest-related deaths to the state Department of Criminal Justice Services, as well as the Governor and the State Legislature.
  • The right of someone not under arrest or in custody to record police activity and to maintain custody and control of the recording and any property or instruments used to record the activities.
  • Courts will now compile and publish data concerning arrests and court proceedings involving low-level offenses and include anonymous information such as race, ethnicity, and sex.

Protection for law officers also are in place, and included in the draft, with penalties for falsely summoning a police officer when there is no reason to believe a crime, offense, or threat has been committed.

Also, investigations of alleged misconduct by anyone with policing authority causing someone’s death will be taken over by the state Attorney General’s Office, and will likely in place by the end of the year, Allard told the committee. Any death in the county jail also will be investigated by the Attorney General, beginning next year.

Future goals also include training police officers in ways to improve their perception of others, regardless of race, ethnicity, and sex, and programs to reduce the officers’ levels of stress, given the high-intensity nature of their jobs.

We believe law enforcement in this county already meets high standards. These goals will only make us all better.

James Allard, Steuben County Sheriff

If approved, the final draft is expected to be adopted by the county Legislature when it meets in January.

Comments will be received at from 8 a.m. Wednesday (Dec. 9) though 5 p.m. Dec. 23.

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