In the days since the killing of George Floyd by the now former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin and subsequent protests across the country, there has been a national conversation on policing and civil rights. I would like to share with you some steps our local Croton Police Department has taken and is taking to better serve the community.
When the Board of Trustees appointed Russel Harper as the Chief of Police in 2018, we made our priorities clear: more community policing; more training; a more diverse force.
Under Chief Harper, we have added 2 bilingual officers and a bilingual park ranger (previously we had none). We also hired our first woman in uniform in almost a decade. Chief Harper has made sure that officers strengthen their ties to the community with programs like “coffee with a cop” where residents can meet with the police in a casual setting.
Since early 2020, Chief Harper and I have been discussing anti-bias training for the Croton Police Department.
At last night’s work session, Chief Harper announced he planned to have all officers of the CPD complete such a program developed by New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal (NYMIR), an insurance cooperative of local governments that provides training on a range of topics to disseminate best practices and reduce risks among its members. The NYMIR course provides lessons on identifying biases, examples of proscribed bias policing, avoiding biased policing and maintaining an unbiased and respectful culture.
In addition, Chief Harper is continuing to develop a community policing and de-escalation curriculum for the Croton Police.
As reported in last week’s Gazette, Chief Harper and I joined an interfaith vigil against racism organized by Croton’s houses of Worship. We released a joint statement expressing our solidarity with those that demand law enforcement protect and serve all communities equally and all citizens be treated with respect regardless of race.
The Village Board of Trustees and I will continue to work with our police to ensure that our Croton-on-Hudson progresses towards this goal.
Brian Pugh, Mayor