people standing at podium

Task Force formed by County Executive George Latimer, made up of law enforcement, attorneys and key community stakeholders, seek to implement positive reform. The report now goes to Board of Legislators for approval.

You may also go to YouTube to watch the full briefing.

Read the full report.

Following a historic year shining the light on long standing injustices in our nation, Westchester County Executive George Latimer announced the formation of the Westchester County Police Reform and Reimagining Task Force in early June. After seven months of intensive collaboration his task force is now issuing the report required by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203.

Latimer said: “What we saw this past year, similar to what I lived through as a young man in the 1960s, was a breaking point in our society. It is on us in government to now act. It became clearer than ever – following the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others – that real reform must occur. It also must occur with all stakeholders at the table. I believe this task force has done admirable work toward that goal and I thank them all for their service. The County Department of Public Safety has already instituted multiple policies – such as police body cams – and we will work to do more.”

The task force, chaired by prominent Westchester residents Mayo Bartlett, Esq. and Leroy Frazer, Esq, was comprised of County and local Law Enforcement professionals, clergy representatives, criminal justice and police reform advocates, human rights professionals, and public servants to develop a blueprint for new policing strategies and to highlight policies currently in place by the Westchester County Department of Public Safety (WCDPS). 

The task force formed six working groups: Community Engagement, Qualification and Recruitment, Training and Equipment, Policies and Procedures, and Accountability and Transparency. Following its extensive work - which included public hearings, countless work sessions and insightful discussion on the serious issues at hand – the task force released a report organized in three main sections: 1) Background and structure of this task force; 2) Reports detailing the work, process, recommendations and overall findings; and 3) a description of the fifty-one recommendations organized based on the level of government to which they must be referred for action - opportunities for administrative action by the County Executive, recommendations for the County’s Board of Legislators, and recommendations for action by New York State.

Bartlett said: “It has been a pleasure working with the members of the Westchester County Task Force. We engaged in open and honest dialog concerning police reform, as well as the effort to reimagine what we believe the policing profession should be. We were fortunate to have the full support of County Executive George Latimer, Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins, and many members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators. We were also appreciative to have had true partners from the County’s law enforcement community, who provided us with their ideas concerning the challenges faced by law enforcement as well as some of the success that we were sometimes not aware of.  It is my sincere opinion that all of the members of the Task Force were interested in implementing best practices, and strengthening the relationship between police and the community.  Perhaps most impressive was the thoughtful and considerate manner with which the work of the Task Force was conducted. While I believe we have been successful in identifying areas where WCDPS may improve, we also reached the determination that our work will not be complete following our report. For that reason, it is clear to me that we must continually review models of policing to ensure that law enforcement may properly serve the community.”

Frazer said: “The recommendations contained in this report represent countless hours of research and hard work by dedicated individuals seeking to bridge the gap between the community and police while maintaining public safety.  It is my fervent desire that readers will see the excellent policies and procedures that our County police have in place and envision acceptable ways of insuring transparency and accountability.”

Westchester County Department of Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Gleason said: “I would like to thank the members of the Committee for their hard work over the last six months. I look forward to receiving the final report and reviewing its recommendations for our Department and the broader law enforcement community.”

The fifty-one recommendations originated from the six working groups created within the Police Reform and Reimagining Task Force. Thirty of the thirty-eight members of the Task Force formally voted on each of these recommendations at their Jan. 12, 2021 meeting.

Among the recommendations:

  • Reviewing Westchester County Department of Public Safety (WCDPS)’s use of social media,
  • Making WCDPS’s homepage available in multiple languages,
  • Design and add a series of questions regarding an officer’s interaction with the community they serve when considering promotions and/or annual evaluations.
  • Conduct joint de-escalation (also known as verbal judo) training with the Department of Correction.
  • WCDPS should explore national accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies’ (CALEA) Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation Program.
  • Implement Policies to Educate the Public on Police Values, Principles, and Operations.
  • Make non-confidential documents and other data, which will allow the public to assess the fairness of civilian police interactions, readily available to the public.
  • Enhance Officer Training – extension of leadership training to second and third line supervisors on an annual basis.
  • Increase training hours for the County Police Academy’s Basic Training Course for police officers to include one week devoted to Procedural Justice, Cultural Diversity, and Bias Related Crimes and Incidents,
  • Implement Project ABLE (Active ‘Bystandership’ for Law Enforcement),
  • Identify liaison officers at each municipal police department who are trained to respond to hate incidents,
  • Enhance the County’s already successful Police and Community Together (PACT) community engagement program and make it available as a model for other communities,
  • Establish an Open Disciplinary Process,
  • Pass County laws to create the Office for Police Accountability (OPA) to investigate allegations of misconduct by WCDPS officers,
  • Expand the use of specialized teams to respond to mental health calls County-wide and explore additional co-response initiatives,
  • Expanding age range for police officers,
  • Create and implement a County-wide electronic database for Mental Health Behavioral cases and special needs populations.
  • Establish a shared Body Work Camera (BWC) database through shared services.
  • Update Section 273.01(3) of the County Public Safety Law in reference to hate crimes.
  • DCJS Certification/Licensure Overhaul
  • Provide for legislation requiring municipal indemnification by officers guilty of reckless and willful misconduct.

New actions taken by the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services such as:

  • Reconsider the use of the term ‘Tactical Perception’
  • Accreditation should be made mandatory for every law enforcement agency Statewide
  • Training requirements should uniformly require annual leadership training for second- and third-line supervisors
  • Mandate annual in-service training for all officers regarding Bias Crimes/Incidents, Procedural Justice, Professional Communication and Tactical Perception (Cultural Competency and Implicit Bias).
  • Change Civil Service Law to extend the probationary period for new recruits to two years.
  • Reform Civil Service Law and the process for hiring police officers.

The report will now go to the Board of Legislators for their review and legislative action.  In addition, following guidelines from the Governor’s Executive Order 203, this plan will be posted for public comment and a final version will incorporate public comments received. Once the plan is adopted by the BOL, Latimer will complete the Certification Form and submit the certification and a copy of the plan to the Director of the New York State Division of the Budget on or before April 1, 2021.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings were held virtually through WebEx and open to the public. View recordings of the meetings on the County’s YouTube channel.

Information on the Task Force is otherwise consolidated Police Reform Task Force.

Members of the Task Force, chaired by Bartlett and Frazer, included:

  • Joaquin Alemany
  • Horace Anderson Jr.
  • Gail Baxter,
  • Kenneth Chamberlain Jr.,
  • Detective David Clarke,
  • Legislator Terry Clements,
  • Reverend Frank Coleman Jr.,
  • Richard Conway,
  • Reverend Doris Dalton,
  • Reverend Troy P. DeCohen,
  • Andre Early
  • Shondra Floyd McClary
  • Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Gleason
  • Chad Golanec,
  • Sergeant Michael Hagan,
  • DaMia Harris-Madden,
  • Barbara Hart, Esq.
  • Paul Hood
  • Damon K. Jones,
  • Ken Jones, Esq.
  • Lila Kirton, Esq.
  • Anahaita Kotval, Esq.
  • Thomas G. Luzio, Esq.
  • Damon Maher, Esq.
  • Martin McDonald,
  • Christopher McNerney,
  • Lawrence Otis Graham, Esq.
  • Bedford Police Chief Melvin Padilla,
  • Karine Patiño, Esq.
  • Reverend Dr. Steven Pogue,
  • Public Safety Deputy Commissioner Terrance Raynor,
  • Tejash Sanchala, Esq.
  • Robyn Schlesinger, Esq.
  • Legislator Colin Smith,
  • Robert Tucker,
  • Reverend Dr. Verlin Williams

Staff liaisons included:

  • Blanca P. López, Assistant Director of Operations, Team Leader
  • Crystal Collins, Director of Policy and Programs: Faith Based Partnerships and Urban Affairs
  • Copernicus Crane, Assistant to the County Executive, Intergovernmental Operations
  • Peri Kadanoff Esq., Executive Director, Solid Waste Commission
  • Sheralyn Pulver Esq., Chief Administrator, Probation Department
  • Jason Whitehead Esq., Senior Assistant County Attorney, Law Department