Manor residents seek places on village police reform panels, demand timetable from mayor for review process

To the editor:

Recent events have made us more aware than ever of the magnitude of racial inequalities in our country. We know that every town, including Pelham Manor, is not immune to systematic racial bias. And like every other town, Pelham Manor has the responsibility, and opportunity, at this moment to ensure that our village police and other public servants employ best practices and do all in their power to foster trust, fairness, accountability and equal treatment on behalf of all members of our community.

As you know, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently issued Executive Order 203, which directs among other things that:

“(E)ach local entity… must perform a comprehensive review of current police force, deployments, strategies, policies, procedures and practices and develop a plan to improve such deployments, strategies, policies, procedures and practices for the purposes of addressing the particular needs of the communities served by such police agency and promote community engagement to foster trust, fairness and legitimacy and to address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color.”

The Executive Order 203 further provides that the local government shall convene the head of the local policy agency, and stakeholders in the community to develop a plan “tailored to the specific needs of the community” with special emphasis on reducing “any racial disparities in policing.” Additionally, the plan shall consider:

“[E]vidence based policing strategies, including but not limited to use of force policies, procedural justice, any studies addressing systematic racial bias or racial justice in policing, implicit bias awareness training, de-escalation training and practices, law enforcement assisted diversion programs, conflict resolution, problem oriented policies, hot spot policing, focused deference.”

Further, the plan must be made available for public comment in a timely manner such that the final plan is ratified by local law or resolution no later than April 21, 2021.

As committed Pelham Manor residents and community stakeholders, we are seeking to be part of one or more of the committees to assist in carrying out the directives contained in Executive Order 203.

In light of the significant planning necessary to satisfy this executive order, please provide us with the following by August 7:

Your plan and timeline for convening a review consistent with Executive Order 203.

How you intend to involve community members and other stakeholders in that review process.

Your anticipated timetable for public comment.

Toby Marxuach-Gusciora

901 Plymouth St.

Submitted on behalf of:

Laura Barge O’Sullivan

Stephen Byefield

Joan Connell

Jamal Epps

Kenneth Gusciora

Marjut Herzog

Peter Hoffman

Adam Ilkowitz

Carol Ipsen

Talia Jones

Anthea Kelsick

Michael Middleton

Louise Mueller

Sanjay Naik/Nandini Anandu

Margaret Nicholson

Katherine Pringle

Progressive Women of Pelham

Steve Salee

The Tahbaz Family

Emily Tancredi-Brice Abenyega

Dana and Sydney Thayer

Deborah Winstead

Moneeka Zaman

Andrea Ziegelman

Editor’s note: This letter was originally sent to Pelham Manor Mayor Jennifer Monachino Lapey and the trustees on the village board on July 28.