Letter to the Editor: Community Input Needed

Editor’s Note: On Thursday, February 11, the City of Peekskill Police Reform Task Force will hold a virtual public meeting to discuss their draft plan for police reform recommendations. Chaired by Peekskill Mayor Andre Rainey and Antonio Knott, the Task Force is charged with leading a community engagement process that will result in a reform plan that addresses policies, procedures, practices and deployment (including but not limited to use of force) as well as issues of racial disparities wherever they exist.

 

The public can watch the February 11 meeting on the City website (http://bit.ly/2IXEWXR) and Government Access Cablevision Channel 78 / Verizon Fios Channel 28. Public comment may be made via Zoom during the meeting at http://bit.ly/3a0NGtv or by calling (929) 205-6099 (Meeting ID: 963 2965 5989 | Passcode: 10566).

I am a member of the Peekskill Police Reform Task Force. A resident of 20 years, and involved in many aspects of my City, from the arts to the political arena, I was honored to be asked to serve on the Task Force – but that has turned to dismay. Implicit bias has permeated the entire process.
A look at the Organizing Committee reveals a good, practical starting point. The final assemblage of members is commendable in its diversity and breadth of experience and knowledge. But this is where the commendations end. The Task Force has all but ignored the governor’s direction to consult with the community. An email address and public meetings that disallow discussion are not enough.

Without the community’s input, every committee, save two, has been working on items generated from personal agendas. Involved, knowledgeable, and wholeheartedly believing they are representing residents they must recognize they have been working from personal implicit biases. The two committees that directly reached out objected vociferously to what they perceived as censorship of the community’s voice. They were not wrong. Requests directly from residents were altered or not included in the draft plan altogether.

This past Monday the Task Force revealed their draft plan. As much as they believe what they have produced is in the best interests of the City of Peekskill, it is not representative of the residents. It can’t be, because the larger community was not adequately consulted.

I encourage all to read the plan. It is a comprehensive, well-researched, committed effort to improve many aspects of police policy, procedure, and engagement. The work is extensive and the recommendations broad in scope. Please share your thoughts in a public forum, or email. Make your voice heard.

Eileen M Sullivan
Peekskill

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