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Lake Placid seeks input on police reform

LAKE PLACID — Lake Placid Police Department officials are looking for the community’s input as they and a consulting firm draft police reform legislation for the village in time for a state-mandated spring deadline.

People may submit questions, comments and suggestions to Olio Consulting Group, of Ballston Spa, by emailing olioconsultingny@gmail.com. Also, a limited-seating “listening session” was held Wednesday evening, Feb. 10, at the Lake Placid Conference Center.

“There’s not a lot of speaking from our point of view,” Lake Placid Police Chief Bill Moore said Friday, Feb. 5. “It’s more that we’re listening.”

The village informed the Lake Placid News about the meeting on Thursday, Feb. 4, a day after that week’s issue was printed.

Moore, Assistant Chief Chuck Dobson, village Mayor Craig Randall and Theresa Wilson of Olio Consulting updated the community on the status of the police reforms, which are aimed to enhance the quality of policing within the village of Lake Placid.

COVID-19 safety protocols were enforced during the meeting, and only 20 seats were available for the general public due to social distancing.

On June 12, 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 203, the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, requiring local law enforcement agencies in the state to “perform a comprehensive review of current police force deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, and develop a plan to improve such deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, for the purposes of addressing the particular needs of the communities served by such police agency and promote community engagement to foster trust, fairness, and legitimacy, and to address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color.”

The executive order was issued shortly after the police-involved death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and subsequent protests organized by Black Lives Matter and other groups throughout the country.

Local government officials, police leaders and community stakeholders are charged with drafting police reform plans considering evidenced-based policing strategies. According to the executive order, those could include the use-of-force policies, procedural justice, any studies addressing systemic racial bias or racial justice in policing, implicit bias awareness training, deescalation training and practices, law-enforcement-assisted diversion programs, restorative justice practices, community-based outreach and conflict resolution, problem-oriented policing,; hot spots policing, focused deterrence, crime prevention through environmental design, and violence prevention and reduction interventions.

“The village has welcomed this mandate to ensure the stakeholders of the Lake Placid that there is no place for racial bias within its policies, practices and procedures,” Moore said in a statement released on Thursday.

In October, the village of Lake Placid approved a $4,500 contract with the Olio Consulting Group to draft the police reforms. The firm will review all of the Lake Placid Police Department’s policies, including those on use of force and arrests, as well as the department’s hiring practices, before proposing changes and providing diversity training for officers.

The governor’s deadline for local governments to pass police reform legislation is April 1. Moore said a public hearing would be held after a draft of the reforms is released. The executive order mandates that public comment must be provided to all citizens in the locality before it is presented to the local legislative body for adoption of the plan by local law or resolution.

Essex County

On Thursday, Feb. 11, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office held a “Reform and Reinventing Police” panel discussion in regard to Executive Order 203. The sheriff informed the News about the meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

As with most people’s plans, COVID has altered the way the department does business, according to Sheriff David Reynolds.

“Initially we had 5 meetings scheduled in November and December throughout the County,” Reynolds said in a press release. “At the time we worked with public health and the new order limiting gatherings to 10 people and decided to pause our meetings until the pandemic restrictions let up. Unfortunately that has not happened and we have had to change the way we are presenting this information.”

An interactive discussion in person was held with panel members Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague, Public Defender Brandon Boutelle, Mental Health Association Director Doug Meyer, Adirondack Diversity Initiative Director Nicky Hylton-Patterson, Adirondack Community Action Programs Director Alan Jones and Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Shaun Gillilland.

Reynolds and Essex County Manager Daniel Palmer were the moderators and answered questions.

On its website, the Sheriff’s Office provided the public with a link to watch the panel discussion, a copy of the handout, the PowerPoint presentation and an email address for feedback.

The website address is http://www.co.essex.ny.us/Sheriffs/index_files/EX203.htm.