Weekly The Generation, Year 1, Issue 16
December 19, 2023
Blacks and Latinos on Long Island are arrested at significantly higher rates than whites, according to community advocates and police data. That is one reason why finalizing the police reform plan now is critical. CBS New York spoke Monday with Suffolk County leaders and volunteer watchdogs who are vowing to work together for change. When George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody three years ago, New York state ordered sweeping police reform plans.
“We have now implemented all major elements of the police reform plan,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.
Suffolk County is the first to reach the goal, which includes:
Police body cameras
Publishing data on traffic and pedestrian stops
Background checks on police candidates
Diversifying police ranks
Behavioral mental health unit
The last part of the plan is creating a precinct-level advisory board. “We are moving forward. I feel like it’s a positive change, but it also takes work,” said Rhonda Gooden, an advisory board member from Huntington. Volunteers will be watchdogs for their communities.
“When you argue and challenge each other, you get a better product,” said Vanessa Baird-Streeter, deputy Suffolk County executive. After 12 years, Democrat Bellone is term limited and passing the torch of police reform to Republican Ed Romaine.
“It’s an ongoing process. Our hope is as the new administration continues, they will build upon the work that has happened so far,” Bellone said. Critics say racial and ethnic bias in traffic stops must be curbed, and they are still waiting for an independent civilian complaint process.
“Long Island is the 10th-most segregated place in America,” said Laura Harding, president of the group Erase Racism. “When you think of segregation and a lack of diversity on the force, this doesn’t really address that.” Several young men spoke to CBS New York about the issue. “One thing that I hope we see is a whole bunch of transparency and a little more accountability,” said Asa Boodram of Copiague.
“If I get pulled over, I want to know the reason I get pulled over by the cop,” said Kevin Ortiz of Huntington. “Just saying that I can do something, my voice can make a difference,” added Joshua Pierre of Mastic. Residents say they will be listening and watching. Suffolk is reaching out to non-English-speaking recruits, and will waive exam and application fees for those who are low-income.
Source: CBS New York