VESTAL, NY – The Town of Vestal has completed the first stage of its police reform and reinvention mandate with community stakeholders calling the process so far a big success.
The stakeholder committee, made up of local businessmen, clergy, educators, mental health professionals, current and retired town officials and Vestal police officers, met weekly for 4 weeks to review the department’s policies and procedures.
Topics of discussion included use of force policies, implicit bias awareness training, de-escalation training and practices and more.
It’s the first step in Governor Cuomo’s directive to all law enforcement agencies to reinvent and modernize police strategies and programs.
Police Lieutenant Chrsitopher Streno says much of what the Governor wants police agencies to consider Vestal is already doing.
“There’s always room for improvement. We were able to get the perspective of different members of the community that maybe we didn’t recognize before, voices that we weren’t hearing. So, as a result, we’re looking forward to moving forward and being an even better police department serving our community as best we can,” says Streno.
Lynn Parker is a proud Vestal resident who owns Salon Trend on the Vestal Parkway.
Parker says he gained a greater appreciation for the challenges of law enforcement.
He thinks the 4 weeks were just a start and that more needs to be done to encourage communication between the police department and the community.
Parker says he was honored and inspired to be on the committee.
“Being able to contribute and have my voice be heard. It was an open forum where everyone was able to participate at their own comfort level and have the discussion around community policing and what that entails and what that means,” says Parker.
The next step in the formal process is for the stakeholders to make a presentation with recommendations to the Vestal Town Board.
The board will then develop a plan to improve the police department’s policies and procedures which will be open to public input.
Meanwhile, the committee has volunteered to continue meeting on a monthly basis in an effort to improve upon relations between residents and police.