Rye City Council is expected to consider, and approve, the recommendations of the City of Rye Police Department Review Committee at its meeting this Wednesday. The work of the committee was required in the wake of last summer’s black lives matter protests and an executive order from the governor that police department reviews take place across the State.
MyRye.com spoke with Lisa Dominici and Guy Dempsey, co-chairs, City of Rye Police Review Committee to understand more about the committee’s work, and its recommendations. Dominici is the executive director of the Rye Youth Council and Dempsey is a retired attorney with a specialty in futures and derivatives.
MyRye.com: What is the mission of the City of Rye Police Department Review Committee (PDRC)?
Dominici & Dempsey: Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 203 instructs all local government entities in New York State with operating police agencies to perform a comprehensive and collaborative review of current police force deployments, strategies, policies, procedures and practices and develop a plan to improve the same in order to best serve its community.
Pursuant to this Order, Mayor Josh Cohn created the City of Rye Police Review Committee composed of the members listed below.
The mission of the Police Review Committee was to respond to Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 203 instructing all local government entities in NYS with operating police agencies to perform a comprehensive and collaborative review of current police department’s deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, and develop a set of recommendations for improvement to best serve our community.
Who chose the members of the PDRC and what various constituencies did they represent?
Dominici & Dempsey: Mayor Cohn appointed the members of the City of Rye Police Review Committee, which included representation of residents across race, ethnicity and Rye City demographics. The Committee was convened pursuant to guidance available in the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Resources & Guide for Public Officials and Citizens (August 2020). The Committee members are:
Anne Bianchi – Attorney, Legal Aid Society
Jennifer Boyle – President, Rye City School Board, Rye resident
Gabriele Caputo – Rye Police Department, President of PBA
Tony Castro – Attorney, Tony Castro, Esq., Rye resident
Josh Cohn – Mayor, City of Rye, Rye resident
Guy Dempsey – lawyer, Rye resident – Co-Chair
Bart DiNardo – Proprietor, NuClear Pool, Rye resident
Rob Falk – Interim Police Commission, City of Rye
Lisa Dominici – Executive Director, Rye Youth Council
Daniel Gropper – Rabbi, Community Synagogue of Rye
Christine Min Groves – Investor Relations Manager, Rye resident
Jamie Jensen – Foundation Board Chair, Open Door, Rye resident
Carolina Johnson – Councilwoman, City of Rye, Rye resident
Ted Livingston – Assistant District Attorney, Westchester District Attorney’s Office, Rye resident
Daniel Love – Co-Pastor, Rye Presbyterian Church, Rye resident
Shahid Malik – Senior banker and Strategist, Rye resident
Owner/CEO SBM Advisors LLC, Rye resident
Patrick McGovern – Rye resident
Carlos Peraza – Funds Manager, Rye resident
Ben Stacks – Councilman, City of Rye, Rye resident
Corey Stark, Attorney, Corey Stark PLLC, Rye Human Rights Commission, Rye resident
Ingraham Taylor – Social Worker, Westchester Region President of ACT-SO, Rye resident
Greg Usry – Interim City Manager, City of Rye, Rye resident
Susan Watson – Board Trustee, Gabelli Dividend and Income Trust, Rye resident
Genevieve Weber – pRYEde Community Group Cofounder, Rye resident
Amanda Yannett – William & Mary University School of Ed. (Noyce Fellow, Masters candidate), RHS Class of 2015
There are 18 recommendations of the PDRCY. Can you outline three of the 18 that might be most noticeable by residents?
Dominici & Dempsey:
- Recommendation #12. RCPD should propose a policy for the collection and review of demographic information and other data concerning police interactions with the community for the purpose of confirming that policing in Rye complies with applicable laws, regulations and policies.
- Recommendation #13. Establishment of a Police Advisory Committee
- Recommendation # 7 RCPD should complete the scheduled and budgeted use of “Body Worn Cameras” (BWCs) as soon as practicable, including the creation of policies and procedures for the use of BWCs and the handling and retention of data collected, and relevant training. These policies, procedures and training should incorporate best practices used by federal, state, and other local police authorities (as adapted for Rye Community circumstances and needs).
Rye has 37 sworn officers. Are there new or additional investments the city needs to make into the development and well-being of our officers?
Dominici & Dempsey: Rye police officers already participate in more professional development training hours than required by New York State. We encourage Rye PD to continue to follow all Department of Civil Justice Service (DCJS), Westchester County and NY State training and education requirements, and seek to improve education and training of officers in areas such as “Use of Deadly Physical Force,” “Racial Sensitivity,” “De-escalation Techniques,” “Handling Emotionally Disturbed Person (EDP) Situations,” “Detecting At Risk Youths,” “Mental Health First Aid,” and “Implicit Bias” by including best practices used by federal, state, and other local police authorities (as adapted for Rye community circumstances and needs).
In addition, we recommend every Rye police officer be trained in Mental Health First Aid for the well-being of themselves, their peers, and their interactions with the public in crisis and non-crisis situations. This training would be an additional expense. We also recommend increasing involvement of RCPD officers as active participants in Rye community organizations and activities, for example by offering resident pricing for fee-based activities.
The committee recommends new data collection. What’s the summary who, what, where, why and how of this data collection? Are you recommending this data, once collected, be made available publicly?
Dominici & Dempsey: The Police Review Committee recommends that Rye City Police Department (RCPD) propose a policy for the collection and review of demographic information and other data concerning police interactions with the community for the purpose of confirming that policing in Rye complies with applicable laws, regulations and policies. We recommend the proposed policy be submitted to the Commissioner for Public Safety, the Rye City Council, the City Manager, and the (newly formed) Community Police Advisory Committee for review and comment and, after consideration of such comments, RCPD should submit a final policy to the Commissioner, the City Manager and the Rye City Council for approval.
We discussed the collection and use of data during several of our full Committee meetings (all of which are available on website), and collaboratively came to the final recommendation that the data points to be considered in developing the proposed policy should include, but not be limited to, the following:
- Differences between interactions initiated as a result of a citizen call, interactions initiated as a result of information from license plate readers and other police departments, and interactions initiated at the discretion of an officer.
- The legality, practicality and technological feasibility of collecting and retaining demographic information about individuals, particularly in each of the following categories, among others:
- persons who are stopped and/or detained based on a reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed;
- persons who are stopped for a minor violation who ended up being charged with a more serious crime;
- persons for whom a no-knock warrant is requested;
- persons for whom a no-knock warrant is obtained;
- persons upon whom weaponry, including firearms, tasers, and pepper spray, is used; and
- persons upon whom physical restraint is used.
- RCPD supervisory review and analysis of data collected and provision of periodic reports by RCPD to the Commissioner for Public Safety, the City Manager and the Rye City Council concerning such review and analysis.
- Whether there is a need for professional assistance in analyzing data collected.
How has the Rye Police Department been involved in this process, and do you believe it is supportive of these recommendations?
Dominici & Dempsey: Lt. Rob Falk, Interim Commissioner for Public Safety, and Officer Gabe Caputo, president Rye PBA, fully and collaboratively participated in our sub-committee and full Committee meetings throughout the entire process. They worked with the Committee in developing and approving these final recommendations.
How has the Rye PBA (the local police union) been involved in this process, and do you believe it is supportive of these recommendations?
Dominici & Dempsey: The president of the Rye PBA fully participated in subcommittee and full Committee meetings from the beginning of this review. This was a collaborative and engaging process, resulting at times in compromise. I believe that Gabe is supportive of our final recommendations.
With the delivery of this report, now what happens? Does the committee cease to exist? Your recommendation #13 is the creation of a Community Police Advisory Committee. Who selects members for this committee and what will be the role of this group?
Dominici & Dempsey: This set of recommendations will be presented to Rye City Council at their March 24, 2021 meeting. Our expectation and hope are that the Council ratifies the recommendations at that meeting. The City then submits the final recommendations to the Governor’s office in Albany by April 1, 2021. At that point, the Committee ceases to exist.
One of our Committee recommendations is to create a City of Rye Police Advisory Committee. The role of the Police Advisory Committee is intended to increase community understanding and trust building between the police and community. It is not intended to be an oversight committee. It would be the same type of membership, organization and administration as other City of Rye advisory committees and its members therefore would be appointed by the mayor. We do propose recommended membership.
In addition to increasing understanding and trust, the Committee would monitor the implementation by RCPD of the recommendations made by this Committee, as adopted by the Rye City Council, and would provide an ongoing forum to collaboratively address police and community issues, educate about police issues, and improve community-police communications and relations.
Thanks Lisa & Guy!