Amherst sends its police reform plan to Albany
Across New York, governments sponsoring police agencies -- hundreds of them -- are completing and sending off to Albany their mandated police reform and reorganization plans. They are due by April 1.
Some plans are hundreds of pages long. The next stage is the implementation.
Amherst has approved its plan and sent it off to Albany. It addresses reform from a police perspective and from that of the town.
For example, Supervisor Brian Kulpa said School Resource Officers are in the five of the town's public high schools.
"A source of outreach in having officers at those schools to help the schools, but also build a relationship with the students and get to know people and get people of the community to understand what policing is and how important it is and, at the same time, why it may be a future career path," Kulpa said.
Kulpa said the Police Department should reflect the town’s diversity and SROs can help persuade that diversity to show up in well-educated recruits. In the short term, he said the town will be ramping up its training of officers.
"Adding training to our police routines, whether it’s mental health training, mental health awareness, whether it’s cultural and race training. Those training items, we can get started to get set up," he said. "But, obviously, they’re going to take months and years and be a continuous process."
Perhaps the most visible issue considered in the town plan is the court building on John James Audubon Parkway, well away from centers in Amherst. Kulpa said it turned up as an issue because many people complained they couldn’t get there by public transit or ridesharing and that backpacks are banned for security constraints.
"We don’t allow those bags inside court buildings. Well, that’s kind of an old-school way of handling that type of stuff." Kulpa said. "While we can’t change the public access networks and the public transit networks right away, one of the simple things we could do is add a bank of lockers to allow people to store stuff somewhere outside the building."