Medina releases police reform draft

MEDINA — The Village of Medina has released its police reform committee draft report and will conduct a public hearing next month for the final draft.

The public hearing will be 7:15 p.m. on Feb. 22. Village board members and the public can offer their comments for the final report.

“From the very beginning of this process, the committee has asked for community input. Through a public forum, an e-mail account, a survey, committee to community outreach, and now, we’re trying to make sure that every opportunity for community input is available. It’s why we’re calling this a ‘draft’ report, so everyone knows their comments aren’t too late or less important,” said Scott Robinson, committee chair. “We’ve put ‘pen to paper’ on the ideas, goals, requests, and comments from committee and community members into this report. While the committee has signed off on the report, we’re just making it clear that helpful ideas and concepts will certainly be considered.”

A total of 255 people responded to the survey. About 90 percent were from Medina, with equal response between men and women.

Eighty percent were white, 7 percent were black, 8 percent were Hispanic and no other response topped 1 percent.

People can still take the survey, which is available on the Medina village website under the police tab.

Mayor Mike Sidari, who formed and sat on the committee, said he was surprised and glad to see how people rated the police department’s trustworthiness. Out of the respondents, 34 percent rated the department as “great” and 29 percent “good” while the overall performance was at 30 percent “great” and 38 percent “good.”

The biggest concerns the committee addressed, however, were increased training, community policing/relations and mental health.

“(Mental health) is very difficult for communities in rural communities like Orleans County. But we did make some headway on that,” Sidari said.

The committee reviewed the department polices including: use of force, mental health, body worn cameras, community relations, civilian personnel complaints, performance evaluations, handling deadly force incidents, use of firearms, tasers, and less lethal shotgun.

The use of force and community relations policies were updated while mental health and civilian personnel complaints polices were new.

“All the policies that were talked about and any of the additions that the committee would like to see on the policies have been put in place,” the mayor said. “The updated policies are on the website.”

The committee also has made five recommendations and plans of action the Medina Police Department can take:

• Form a Community Policing Board made up of community stakeholders and individuals from the Committee on Police Reform Collaborative. Have regular meetings to further common goals.

• Increasing training topics to include areas of mental health and procedural justice. The committee recognizes the commitment to training and that the Medina Police Department exceeds the training hours required by state accreditation standards. However new topics could be included that further address the concerns of modern-day policing.

• The Medina Police Department take efforts to increase community policing/relations. Additionally, it is recommended that the Medina Village Board include funds in the next budget to assist with these community policing initiatives, in the amount of $10,000.

• The Medina Police Department should attempt to obtain New York state accreditation status.

• Funding be increased to local law enforcement as well as local mental health. It recommends additional funding for law enforcement on both a local and state level.

“If there is something I want everyone to take away from this report, it’s that progress is already being made and will continue to be made once this report is finalized,” Robinson said. “Increased transparency, more active outreach on social media, and training has all begun. Additionally, the recommendation to form a Community Policing Board will continue the dialogue that has been created, well after a final report is approved.”

The full draft report can be found online at villagemedina.org.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1