- Engaged stakeholders in a public and open process on policing strategies and tools;
- Presented a plan, by chief executive and head of the local police force, to the public for comment;
- After consideration of any comments, presented such plan to the local legislative body (council or legislature as appropriate) which has approved such plan (by either local law or resolution); and
- If such government does not certify the plan, the police force may not be eligible to receive future state funding.
- Use of force?
- Complaint process?
- Civilian review?
"Start with a blank piece of paper," Cuomo directed. "Redesign your police department."
One of the items on the list--the police budget--has already become a topic of discussion in Hudson, primarily on Instagram.
As Gossips has reported, Council president Tom DePietro responded to Instagram posts that appeared earlier in the month by recommending that people attend the Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday, June 16.
Civilian review has also been discussed in Hudson. In 2015, when she was mayor-elect, Tiffany Martin announced her intention to create a citizens' advisory police committee to provide full transparency on the department's activities, give citizens a way to offer input on police policy, and foster a dialogue between the community and the police--all in the interest of improving relations between the community and the police. Martin reiterated her commitment to such a plan in the town hall meeting in May 2016. It was discussed again in July 2016, after a protest took place in Hudson, sparked by the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, black men shot by police officers, in different parts of the country, within a day of each other. Although everyone seemed on board with the idea at the time, no citizens' advisory police committee--variously called a civilian advisory board and a community liaison board--was ever formed.
Another item on Cuomo's list, the demilitarization of the police is a topic of impassioned discussion in Hudson every time the Shared Services Response Team is deployed in the city, which happens about once a year. The last time it happened, in February 2020, Police Commissioner Peter Volkmann told community members, "We have the responsibility to collaborate better," and promised to work toward better communication. "Let the struggle begin," said Volkmann. "Community conversations will lead to community solutions. Let's have these hard conversations." The pandemic may be to blame this time, but, to Gossips' knowledge, those "hard conversations" have not begun. Perhaps now that they are mandated by the governor's executive order they will, and perhaps, because we've been trying to grapple with the issues for a while now, Hudson will be ahead of the game.
Yesterday, in an interview with Michel Martin on NPR's All Things Considered about the history of policing and race in the United States, Keisha Blain, a history professor at the University of Iowa, said that the first police force was established in Boston in the 1830s. That claim, coupled with Cuomo's urging that communities start with a blank piece of paper to re-imagine their police departments, made me curious about the beginning of the police force here in Hudson. I was quite sure it predated the 1830s, and I was right. Franklin Ellis' History of Columbia County recounts the creation of the Hudson Police Department in this way:
For ten years prior to 1798 the safety of the city at night had been committed to the care of volunteer watch-men, taken in rotation from a body of citizens, who, to promote the well-being of themselves and their property, had mutually agreed to perform such service; and they received recognition from the council, so far as to be invested with authority to arrest (while on duty) any persons whom they might consider as suspicious or dangerous to the public peace.
But in the year above mentioned, it having been thought advisable to form a regular night-watch, to be appointed by and wholly under control of the city government, it was ordained by the council, January 9,--
"That from and after the publication of this Ordinance, a Night-watch be kept by such persons as the Common Council shall, from time to time, appoint for that purpose, who, or at least two of them, shall constantly and Silently patrole the several Streets in the City from the hour of 10 O'Clock in the evening until daylight in the morning, and Who are hereby empowered to stop and take up all and every person of Suspicious appearance or that do not give a satisfactory Account of themselves to the said Watchmen, and him or them Safely keep in a watch House or to commit him or them to the Bridewell or Gaol of the said City; and the keeper of the said Bridewell or Gaol is hereby authorized and required to take and keep all and every such Suspicious persons until they can have a further examination before the legal authority of said City.
"And in case any fire shall be discovered in the night season, the said watchmen shall give immediate alarm to the Firemen, Bell-man, and other citizens, and in all respects shall use their indeavors to preserve the City from fire, and also to Keep the peace thereof."
This was the first establishment of a police force in Hudson.A footnote in Ellis explains that the original group of watchmen was called the Citizens' Night-Watch. It was organized "chiefly as a protection against incendiarism or accidental fire." The group was first recognized by the Common Council on January 5, 1788, five years after the city's founding and three years after its incorporation.
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