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Police reform taskforce begins data collection from Erie County Sheriff's Office

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Erie County’s Police Reform and Reinvention taskforce met for the sixth time since its formation in September. The 13 member group focused on the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, was formed as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order over the summer for law enforcement agencies to examine their policing practices.

Dr. Marty Floss serves as chair, and with his academic background wants this committee to be one driven by data.

“We certainly took our charge seriously, and I really appreciate that. We’ve come up with a list of requests, my list says 75 but it’s closer to 100 of things we’ve asked for,” Floss said,

The taskforce is using surveys to gauge the policing situation both from the public, and those in the sheriff’s office. Taskforce member Eden Town Supervisor Melissa Hartman wants to see if there's any racial disparities in the office.

“What efforts does the Sheriff put into recruiting minorities and getting them to take the civil service test? Is the civil test component restrictive? These are questions we had,” said Hartman. “Are there challenges in attracting minorities to the process? We also asked what the demographic breakdown of the sheriff’s office is.”

Springville Mayor Bill Krebs said it may be difficult to get data and records on the encounters that reflect good community policing strategies.

“Community policing, what is it? I asked our Springville officer-in-charge and he said it’s so hard to define,” said Krebs. “But these are the things that go on everyday, and I don’t know how to generalize it or break it down in the code. I’m suspecting that CHARMS [Record Management System] doesn’t even record this type of stuff.”

Requests from the taskforce will go through Daniel Neaverth Jr., Erie County’s Emergency Services commissioner. He will route them to the departments involved, which could include the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and Central Police Services.

The reform committee’s findings are due to the Erie County Legislature for review sometime early next year, before it’s sent to Albany by April 1st.

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