I am happy to announce that at last night’s council meeting, there was unanimous support for an idea that I proposed for a committee on community policing. This 15 person committee, which will be selected by the City Manager and Police Commissioner, will be co-chaired by Cathryn Lavery, PhD., Chair & Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Criminal Justice from Iona College, and Michele Rodney, Esq., Dean of Criminal Justice from Monroe College. New Rochelle is fortunate to have the support of our institutions of higher learning and I expect greatness to result from this process. Please see my below memorandum which outlines what the Committee on Community Policing is all about.
TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF CITY COUNCIL
FROM: COUNCIL MEMBER JARED RICE
SUBJECT: COMMITTEE ON COMMUNITY POLICING
DATE: February 23, 2015
It is advised that a committee be created to make recommendations to the City Council regarding ways to improve community policing in New Rochelle.
As you know, the New Rochelle Police Department has lost 30 sworn officers in recent years which, in turn, has shifted priorities away from community policing. Unfortunately, the Police and Community Together (“PACT”) Unit was functionally disbanded as a result of this loss of personnel. In 2012, the report of the Citizens’ Panel on Sustainable Budgets noted that without community policing activities, our Police Department’s ability to obtain intelligence from residents, anticipate problems, engender trust, and prevent crime is likely to degrade.
Although New Rochelle ranks as one of the safest cities of its size nationally, it could become even safer by way of modern community policing initiatives. This is especially applicable along the Lincoln Avenue corridor, in parts of the West End, and in our downtown.
As defined by the U.S. Department of Justice, community policing is a philosophy which promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues. The public safety issues most relevant to community policing are crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.
Recognizing the need to address these public safety issues, an additional $170,000.00 was approved for overtime costs in the 2015 police budget; approximately $47,000.00 was designated for optional programming. Most recently, at the February 10, 2015 council meeting, informal approval was given to the City Manager to move forward with the implementation of the Youth and Police Initiative (“YPI”). The impending addition of YPI is a step in the right direction towards the achievement of overall crime prevention.
The proposed Committee on Community Policing should be asked to produce a report that includes, but is not limited to, the following:
1) a review and explanation of existing community policing practices;
2) short term recommendations that could be accomplished with no additional resources or minimal additional resources;
3) longer term recommendations that might require significant additional resources; and,
4) ways to increase positive dialogue between the police department and the community on an ongoing basis.
The City of New Rochelle is fortunate to have the support of two of our institutions of higher learning, Iona College and Monroe College, to foster the purpose of more robust community policing activities. With the Council’s approval, Cathryn Lavery, PhD., Chair & Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Criminal Justice from Iona College, and Michele Rodney, Esq., Dean of Criminal Justice from Monroe College, are willing and able to co-chair this effort.
In addition to the co-chairs who would be non-voting members, it is suggested that a 15 person committee be appointed by the City Manager, at least three of whom should be recommendations of the Police Commissioner. Overall, the 15 person committee should be comprised of a committed group of individuals with diverse backgrounds who will contribute positively towards the previously mentioned goals.
As a supplement to the 15 member voting committee, members of our Police Department, Department of Finance, Department of Development, and other experts in the field of community policing should be enlisted to provide information and advice. Furthermore, it is proposed that two members of City Council serve as the liaison between the City Council and the proposed Committee on Community Policing.
It is anticipated that the 15 member body will vote on recommendations after a four to six month period, with a two-thirds supermajority required for a recommendation to pass. I am excited about the prospect of what the proposed Committee on Community Policing can accomplish; ideally, New Rochelle can be a national model for the best community policing practices.
I ask for the Council’s feedback on and support for this initiative.