In June, our governor issued Executive Order 203, requiring local police agencies to develop a plan that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs based on community input. Each police agency’s reform plan must address policies, procedures, practices and deployment, including, but not limited to use of force. Such a reform plan must be approved by the Board of Trustees by April 1, 2021.
Our new police chief, John Nikitopoulos, laid out his vision of the path forward for the Village at Monday’s Board of Trustees work session. Through the remainder of 2020, the chief will meet with community groups and conduct a survey of Village residents. This will help the chief to identify issues and assess needs in the community.
In early 2021, the chief will present a draft plan informed by the earlier community outreach discussed above. The draft plan will be subject to public comment. I plan to appoint a task force, composed of citizens and officials, that will assist in reviewing these comments and make recommendations about revisions to the draft plan.
After the draft plan is thoroughly ventilated, the Board of Trustees will review the plan, the public’s comments and the task force’s recommendations. Ultimately, the Board will be responsible for approving a final plan and ensuring its full implementation.
Our Croton Police Department has much to be proud of, including a long record of successfully de-escalating potentially violent situations. As reported by the chief in his memo to the Board, in the past 34 years, no Croton police officer has discharged their firearm in the course of duty, even when dealing with armed individuals.
Even prior to Executive Order 203, Chief Nikitopoulos’s predecessor, Russel Harper, took the lead on modernizing our force. In just two years, the Police Department added its first bilingual officers and park rangers and the first woman police officer in nearly a decade and implemented additional anti-bias training.
I believe that Executive Order 203 is an invitation to make our community’s police better than ever. I look forward to working with the Board, the Police Department and residents to help make our community as safe as possible for everyone.