POUGHKEEPSIE – City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison announced that Common Council member Yvonne Flowers and Bishop Debra Gause will co-chair the City’s Procedural Justice Committee, which is reviewing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203 pertaining to policing and enhanced training and policies.
The city also has created a webpage to keep the public informed of the committee’s progress, to provide pertinent information about the governor’s executive order, and to offer ways for the public to give feedback, https://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/policecollaborativeplan/
Last year, the city formed the Committee — which includes police officers, other city officials and members of the public — to address community concerns related to police issues. In August, the Mayor tasked the committee with developing plans to address the governor’s executive order and to make recommendations for the Mayor and Common Council to consider and act upon.
“We have a truly vibrant committee,” said Mayor Rolison. “It’s an excellent and diverse mix of community leaders, police officials and others who are willing to talk through any concerns and improve communication between the police and the public.”
In mid-June, Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 203 — the “New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative” — requiring local police agencies to develop a plan and address policies, procedures, practices and deployment, including but not limited to the use of force. Governments with police agencies must adopt a plan by April 1, 2021, to be eligible for future state funding.
Over the years, the city Police Department has undertaken an array of training, including in procedural justice, which focuses on the way police interact with the public.The training, in part, emphasizes that treating people with dignity and respect and giving citizens a voice during encounters promotes community trust. City Police also have undertaken implicit bias training, which addresses the automatic association people tend to make between groups of people and stereotypes about those groups.
The Mayor said he has the utmost confidence in Councilwoman Flowers and Bishop Gause to guide the Procedure Justice Committee through this process, pointing to their strong history of community ties and service in Poughkeepsie. Flowers is serving her second consecutive term of the Common Council, and Bishop Gause is the Senior Pastor of Holy Light Pentecostal Church.
“I have had the pleasure of serving on the Procedural Justice committee for almost a year and enjoy working with the police officers and community stakeholders on the committee as we strive to continue to improve community and police relations in the City of Poughkeepsie,” Council member Flowers said. “I am looking forward to working with the committee in reviewing the Governor’s Executive Order on police reform and discussing how we can implement additional policies and procedures within our police department that will continue to promote community trust, transparency and accountability.”
“I think it is important for us to come together, sitting at an honest table and speaking truth to each other. We have to look at what is, we have to look at what was, we have to look at both of those to decide where we want to go,” said Bishop Gause. “People are going to have to talk freely, but also listen to each other to get to the bottom of things before we decide what changes may need to be made.”