Otsego County Board approves police plan

Bliss

Otsego County’s Board of Representatives unanimously approved the county’s police reform and reinvention plan at a special meeting Thursday, March 25. 

The plan was presented in detail at the board’s regular monthly meeting on March 3. 

Board chair Dave Bliss, R-Cherry Valley, Middlefield, Roseboom, said only one comment about the plan came in during the eight-day comment period. He said there were minor changes made on the plan from its draft stage. 

“I’d just, again, like to thank all the members of the committee, who spent a lot of time, a lot of effort, going through this,” Bliss said. “They did a fantastic job, particularly the members from the community.”

Bliss said he thought the process was a good one for the county. 

“Actually, it was a very good experience, I think,” he said. “Hopefully we came up with a good plan.”

Bliss said the review committee has decided to continue to meet, and will hold another meeting in June to “re-examine where we are.” 

Otsego’s plan offers several recommendations, including: improving the sheriff department’s collection of data, including for incidents that do not lead to arrests; developing an outside entity to review complaints against officers and review data on racial biases that are contained in the enhanced stats; provide more training to officers for implicit bias training, dealing with people with mental health issues, de-escalation strategies and officer wellness; improve community engagement; work with the county Personnel Department to hire more employees who are female or people of color; continue to evaluate feedback and solicit more input; and establish subcommittees to continue to work to implement the group’s recommendations.

The review was mandated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order 203, which was issued in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed May 25, in Minneapolis. Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, is on trial for the murder of Floyd.

The representatives made few comments about the plan. Board Vice Chair Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick, Milford, New Lisbon, asked Bliss what happens once the county submits its plan, which has an April 1, deadline, to the state. Bliss said the state can accept or reject the plan, but he has only heard of one plan being rejected so far and he thought it was an issue Otsego won’t have to deal with. 

Rep. Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, and Rep. Dan Wilber, R-Burlington, Edmeston, Exeter, Plainfield, were not at the meeting. 

The meeting was held via Zoom, because of the coronavirus pandemic, and can be viewed on Otsego County’s Facebook page.  

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