State still waiting for dozens of police reform plans, including several from Western New York

Local News

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) – Forty law enforcement jurisdictions had not yet submitted a police reform plan with New York State as of Wednesday evening, according to a list obtained by News 4. The state was still waiting for plans from nine Western New York communities.

Governor Andrew Cuomo required police jurisdictions to adopt a police reform plan by April 1st and submit it to the state, or risk having up to half of its state and federal funding withheld. He has also threatened to have the attorney general install a monitor on those which don’t submit a plan.

As of Wednesday, the state had not yet received a plan from jurisdictions including the Andover Village Police Department, Friendship Town Police Department, Ellicottville Town Police Department, Franklinville Village Police Department, Cattaraugus Village Police Department, Grand Island Town Police Department, Lockport City Police Department, Corfu Village Police Department, and Lyndonville Village Police Department, according to the list a state official sent to News 4.

The official said the state is connecting with the jurisdictions to find out their status before making decisions on funding and a monitor.

Lockport Mayor Michelle Roman says they adopted their reform plan in February and submitted it. Then, this past Monday, she says she received notice from the New York Conference of Mayors that they did not complete a required checklist.

“So they sent us a form that we needed to fill out,” Roman said.

Mayor Roman says she submitted that on Tuesday. The Lockport Police Department has 48 members, none of whom are Black, she said. Roman said a top priority is ensuring that the department better reflects the community.

“We know that’s an issue, but a lot of that issue has to do with the civil service process,” she said. “So we are going to be asking the state to re-look at the civil service process.”

Earlier this year, Lockport increased its officer training budget to include training in bias and mental health. The city’s police department is also working to become accredited, the mayor said.

Grand Island Town Supervisor John Whitney says their reform plan was completed prior to April 1st, and published on the town’s website.

“We wanted to have an additional public hearing at our regular town board meeting, which was Monday night,” Whitney said. “We did that. We received some additional comments which we are going to be incorporating into our plan.”

Whitney says the town’s attorneys are working on that. Meanwhile, he submitted a certification notice Thursday morning. Among other things, the plan calls for officers to be more involved in the community.

Both Whitney and Roman believe plans will need to develop as time goes on.

“This is not a one and done,” Roman said.

Cattaraugus Mayor Wirt Smith admits they have not submitted their plan yet. He said the officer-in-charge of the village’s police department is waiting for guidance from a state official on one particular issue. Smith said the plan would go in front of the village board Monday for approval.

“It is a very important and much needed reform in many areas of our country,” Smith added in an email.

Andover Mayor David Truax said his village’s plan was filed with the state prior to the April 1st deadline, however it was filed to the wrong state agency.

“It has been resubmitted to the correct department,” Truax said.

A representative for the Town of Ellicottville told News 4 the town is finalizing its plan, and intended to submit it to the state shortly.

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of his work here.

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