Medina votes to send police reform report to state

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 March 2021 at 12:33 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Scott Robinson, chairman of the Committee on Police Reform Collaborative in Medina, discusses the committee’s report on Monday during the Village Board meeting. The board accepted the report and will be sending it to the state.

MEDINA – The Medina Village Board on Monday evening accepted a police reform report that has been the result of many meetings and public input since last August.

Scott Robinson, president of the Medina Area Partnership, has served as chairman of the Committee on Police Reform Collaborative in Medina. The group has met at least twice a month since August. The committee has updated and reviewed policies on use of force, mental health, body worn cameras, community relations, civilian personnel complaints, performance evaluations, handling deadly force incidents, use of firearms including taser and less lethal shotgun.

The committee has recommended establishing a Community Policing Board that would include a cross-section of the community and meet regularly. That community policing board would work towards forming better relations between law enforcement and the community.

“These relationships can be beneficial to convey information in both directions,” according to the report from Committee on Police Reform Collaborative. “This Board may also be tasked with aiding in community relations events.”

Robinson during Monday’s Village Board meeting urged the village to hold a meeting at least once a year to give community members a chance to better understand the police department policies, and also to raise any concerns. That meeting would also be a forum for the department to offer a recap of the past year.

Robinson praised Police Chief Chad Kenward and other village and police officials for their efforts in developing the plan. Kenward was very forthcoming with information, Robinson said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated all 500 law enforcement agencies in the state submit the police reform plans to the state by April 1 or risk losing any state aid. Medina officials have worked many months on the month, while other communities only in the past month started to meet and get public feedback for the plan.

“We’ve been meeting every other week since August while other communities are just getting started,” Robinson said. “A lot of our committee members have invested a lot of time in this. They have just been phenomenal.”

Some highlights of the plan include:

• MENTAL HEALTH and PROCEDURAL JUSTICE – The committee in Medina recommended increased training for Medina police officers in mental health and procedural justice.

The regular mental health training schedule should seek out opportunities for crisis intervention training and mental health first aid.

Medina has already sent an instructor for certification in “Principled Policing.” That program covers areas such as History of Policing, Communication, Racial Bias, Decision Making, Trust Building and Core Values.

“Regular training in this area may help officers deal with the difficulties of modern-day policing,” the committee report states. “All of these training areas can be reinforced through reality based training, including interactive scenarios involving use of communication skills.”

• COMMUNITY POLICING/RELATIONS: The Committee recommends that the Medina Police Department take efforts to increase community policing and relations. The committee recommended the Medina Village Board put $10,000 in the next budget to assist with these community policing initiatives.

The committee recommended open community meetings hosted by the Medina Police Department. These meetings can be used to relay relevant information, and hear public concerns.

The Medina PD should also do an annual public survey to gather input from local citizens on police activities. The committee surveyed people for the current plan and received 245 responses.

Some other ways to strengthen community interaction with the department could be more officers on foot patrol, bike patrol and community activities. The committee recommended an annual gathering open to the public where police officers can have positive interactions with the community.

Medina might also consider assigning a Community Policing Officer to focus on creating opportunities for positive interactions with the community.

• ACCREDITATION: The Committee recommends that the Medina PD attempt to obtain NYS accreditation status. The NYS Accreditation Program provides outside guidance and oversight to law enforcement to ensure performance in areas such as policies, procedures and training.

• FUNDING: The committee said funding should be increased at the local and state levels for law enforcement and mental health services. The Medina PD could pursue state grant funding for mental health, training and equipment.

The committee also said Medina should fund an investigator position in the Medina PD. “A designated position should result in a higher rate of case closures, which it is assumed will also increase public confidence,” the committee stated in the report.