Police reform plan allows for body cameras on Suffolk officers, civillian oversight

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Wednesday, December 1, 2021
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Stacey Sager reports on a comprehensive new plan that allows enhanced civilian oversight and more transparency when it comes to police body cameras.

HAUPPAUGE, Suffolk County (WABC) -- Police in Suffolk County will now wear body cameras -- part of what the county executive calls the most comprehensive suburban police reform and civilian oversight plan in the country.

The comprehensive new plan allows enhanced civilian oversight and more transparency when it comes to police body cameras.

It's an agreement reached between Suffolk County leaders and the officer's union that was announced Wednesday.

"It was months in the making," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. "This was not an easy process. We brought everyone together to have some difficult conversations, but guess what? That's what you need to do in order to make real progress."

The biggest component of this plan is that 2,600 officers, mostly patrol officers will begin wearing body cameras.

The cameras are similar to the body cameras being worn by officers in Nassau County since May.

Officers with the cameras in Suffolk County will receive training and a $3,000 annual stipend.

That was one of many sticky issues that needed to be ironed out between union members and the communities they police.

"There were certain privacy issues we didn't want to cross lines on, and there's certain issues where we want to make sure that if there was going to be a disciplinary issue how that would be addressed, so you really have to have all that agreed to up front before you put the camera on somebody," Suffolk County PBA President Noel DiGerolamo said.

The plan includes seven major points for reform; Training and Continuing Education, Recruitment and Staffing, Community Policing, Traffic Stops, Arrests and Warrants, Mental Health Response and Police Systems, Accountability and Body Cameras.

Currently, about 20% of patrol officers are trained for mental health crisis intervention, the Suffolk County Police Department is hoping to build upon that, especially during this critical time that we are in during the pandemic.

In communities of color, advocates say it can't come soon enough.

Serena Liguori works with incarcerated women and their families and was on the task force.

"We have seen police officers over arresting Black and brown members of our community, and in fact, we see huge distrust from our community members when it comes to police," Liguori said.

To date, a number of initiatives focused on these priorities have been enacted, including, but not limited to:

- Launch of public facing Traffic Stop Data dashboard

- All officers have business cards with contact information to be provided to all residents who request it

- Enhancing Language Access by translating the upper portions of the Domestic Incident Report to ensure victims full comprehension and understanding

- Collaborating with GENY NY and LGBTQ+ advocates to assist in reviewing and enhancing training curriculum and SCPD policies to address the gender expansive communities

- Enhancing command oversight of no-knock warrants

- Community engagement and participation SCPD in training academy instruction

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