Tuesday, August 25, 2020

News of Police Reform and Assessment

Gossips anticipated that last night's Common Council Police Committee meeting might yield some information about Hudson's efforts to comply with Governor Andrew Cuomo's mandated police reforms, and that is indeed what happened. Police commissioner Peter Volkmann reported that the Police Reconciliation and Advisory Commission, appointed by Mayor Kamal Johnson early last month, is in fact the group who will be, as per the governor's mandate, developing "a plan that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs" in Hudson. Volkmann told the committee, "The Common Council has to accept the results that come from the commission." When committee chair Dewan Sarowar questioned that statement, Volkmann reiterated it. The police reform workbook, issued this month by the State of New York, describes a somewhat different process.

In his foreword to the workbook, Cuomo outlines this collaborative process:
  • Review the needs of the community served by its police agency, and evaluate the department's current policies and practices;
  • Establish policies that allow police to effectively and safely perform their duties;
  • Involve the entire community in the discussion;
  • Develop policy recommendations resulting from this review;
  • Offer a plan for public comment;
  • Present the plan to the local legislative body to ratify or adopt it, and;
  • Certify adoption of the plan to the State Budget Director on or before April 1, 2021.
The process laid out by the governor sounds a little different from, "The Common Council has to accept the results that come from the commission."

Volkmann also reported on Mayor Kamal Johnson's executive order that the police budget be cut by 10 percent. Last night, Volkmann told the committee that 90 percent of the police budget is salaries, so it would be impossible to cut the budget by 10 percent without laying off officers, and the mayor had insisted that budget cuts not involve layoffs. Volkmann indicated that a 5 percent cut was possible this year because, owing to COVID-19, there were no festivals requiring police overtime.

At the beginning of the year, when Volkmann was appointed police commissioner, he was asked by the mayor to do an assessment of the Hudson Police Department. He told the committee last night that his assessment had been completed and delivered to the mayor. In his report, he made twenty-four recommendations, which he shared with the Police Committee last night:
  1. Have officers work twelve-hour shifts instead of eight-hour shifts
  2. Implement the Hudson Cares initiative, which involves Community Angels, and create a civilian position for a liaison with the Angels
  3. Create a spiritual care team led by Rev. Richard Washburn, the police chaplain
  4. Adopt a more efficient procedure for handling complaints about officers and concerns about officer conduct
  5. Review the salary of the police chief--Volkmann pointed out that Chief Ed Moore is the lowest paid police chief in the State of New York and the lowest paid officer in the HPD
  6. Make improvements to the building--Volkmann maintained that the building is "unfinished," saying, "It went over budget so they had to make some cuts."
  7. Re-evaluate the software used by the police department
  8. Adopt electronic policies
  9. Create initiatives for interactions following the "Take Five" concept--Volkmann suggested "Ice Pop with a Cop," where a police officer spends five minutes having a popsicle with a child
  10. Identify training needs, as recommended by the Police Reconciliation and Advisory Commission
  11. Inventory the equipment
  12. Implement crisis intervention training
  13. Establish an emergency notification system for elected officials
  14. Create a wellness program for officers, "for mind, body, and spirit"
  15. Introduce a Comfort Canine program--a "therapy dog for children and festivals"
  16. Conduct an in-depth analysis of the Parking Bureau
  17. Provide officers with EpiPens
  18. Develop a strategic plan for replacing police vehicles
  19. Equip all police vehicles with cameras that are always on
  20. Partner with many groups to decrease calls for service and arrests
  21. Purchase a defibrillator
  22. Publish all statistics and do a better job with PR
  23. Partner with Ring to use information from residential security cameras  
  24. Come up with a strategic plan to curb violence in the city
During the course of the meeting, Volkmann also shared this information. There are only three full-time police agencies in Columbia County: the New York State Police, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, and the Hudson Police Department. The HPD represents only 17 percent of the officers in the county, but HPD makes half the criminal arrests. He also pointed out that "Columbia Memorial Health calls the HPD when they have someone who is out of control."


  1. Mayor Kamal Johnson's executive order cuts the police budget by 10 percent? Was that an arbitrary percentage, or was a careful analysis of actual fiscal needs of the HPD considered first? What are the real consequences to the community and police officers if the budget is cut that much?
    Also, how do police officers feel about the proposal to work twelve-hour instead of eight-hour shifts? Would this lead to problems with morale and fatigue?

    1. It will likely to increased costs to the community, as the overtime rate is usually paid after 8 hours.

  2. When I lived in Philadelphia, I attended the Philadelphia Police Department's Civilian Police Academy. The purpose of this program was to develop a rapport between police officers and community members. Some of the topics included in the course were safe operation of police vehicles, report writing and note taking and crime scene investigation. Based on my experience, I believe such a program is a useful way to improve relations between the community and the police. Perhaps a similar program should be implemented in Hudson.
    In addition, the police department had a "ride along" program designed to help educate the community about what the police department does on a daily basis and to help residents become familiar with the officers and the department.

    1. Well, I just heard about a "ride-along"program in Hudson that happened last week. i guess this "builds character".

      the UPS driver overdosed while on duty and the police officer had to jump into the UPS truck to stop it from hitting more parked cars. the police then had to make sure that the driver didnt die of his overdose. incredibly,no one was hurt and the driver is in the hospital.

      Somehow i think we all believe that police have to have superpowers - and deal with crazy out of control people daily. Welcome to Hudson.

    2. The guy didn’t overdose he had a diabetic seizure. The officer then bragged about taking the guy down.

    3. Can you cite your source for that?

    4. His family issued a statement.

    5. To whom did they issue this statement, Good Grief? It seems it did not go to the local newspaper: https://www.hudsonvalley360.com/news/greenecounty/ups-driver-no-longer-with-company/article_8dd07ff2-a5fd-5624-b74a-f756e114f147.html?fbclid=IwAR3XnbNNLSk-wTHgauZazF5184-rqNV9bpuwV6bb9v_5ynb2AK4YWqjjSHk

  3. It looks like this cost cutting exercise will be very expensive.

  4. Replies
    1. agreed! The parking officers should not be part of the HPD.

    2. Chief Moore should not be spending one second of his time at work dealing with parking meters, parking officers or parking enforcement in general INCLUDING deciding the dollar amount on any parking violation ticket (He recently raised the night parking tickets to $25. Did he offer any reasons why to the common council?).

  5. Seems like #1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 18, 19, 21, 23 all cost money. During a time when the budget is supposed to be cut, does this list seem out of touch?

  6. I totally agree with Funky Hudson. And 12 hour shifts seem extremely long. What about fatigue? And I'm surprised that 10, 11, 12 and 24 are not already in place.