Leading Village police steering panel: Krystal Howell, Okey Obudulu, Teisa Salmon, Ella Stern, Veronica Stern, Jeff Watkins


Village of Pelham police vehicles parked next to Town Hall, which houses the department.

Krystal Howell, Okey Obudulu, Teisa Salmon, Ella Stern, Veronica Stern and Jeff Watkins have agreed to lead the Village of Pelham Steering Committee on Local Policing, according to an email Monday from Mayor Chance Mullen.

The committee is the village’s first step in fulfilling Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order requiring municipalities “to develop an action plan to build trust among residents and ensure accountability in local policing,” Mullen said.  That plan must be approved by the village board by next April.

“The steering committee has been formed to center the experiences of our neighbors who are Black, Indigenous and people of color,” said the mayor. “I believe strongly in the importance of elevating the voices of our BIPOC neighbors—especially at a moment like this—and I’m grateful they’ve agreed to help lead us through this process.”

Cuomo’s executive order as well as a package of legislation Cuomo signed were all responses to the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis and protests and marches that followed. Floyd died when Police Officer Derek Chauvin held him down by his pressing knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, while three other officers at the scene face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

Also on the Pelham local policing panel will be Village Administrator Omar Small, Trustee Ariel Spira-Cohen (who is liaison to the police department), Police Chief Jason Pallett and other staff members and trustees “periodically to discuss different elements of the village government, depending on the topic,” Mullen said. He said he plans to explore ways to expand the discussion to include the broader public.

The Pelham Examiner has asked if the meetings will open to the press and will inquire with the New York State Committee on Open Government depending on the answer..