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Criminal Reform Law Changes Already Impacting JPD

The new criminal reform law changes that went into effect at the start of the new year are already impacting the Jamestown Police Department.

On Monday, Harry Snellings, Jamestown Police Department chief and city public safety director, said department personnel have fallen behind on recording evidence because of the new criminal justice reforms.

He said his main concern is the new discovery law, which now requires all evidence to be submitted within 15-days.

Snellings said to adjust to the impact of the new quicker discovery rules, the city’s police department started implementing new procedures at the beginning of December.

He said department personnel have already fallen behind when it comes to physical evidence that is collected because of the attention needed on digital evidence. He added Mark Dean, city city IT director, has had to assist department personnel with collecting video evidence of each person being “booked.” Snellings said more than 150 people were booked in December.

“That’s a lot of video evidence,” he said.

Last week, the council had a discussion on the new jail reform laws that went into effect, with Anthony Dolce, council president, stating that they could possibly approve a resolution asking the state Legislature to repeal the new criminal reform laws, which other municipalities have done.

Dolce said state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, has called for the repeal of the new justice reform laws as well.

Last spring, the state Legislature approved cashless bail for nonviolent defendants and a quicker discovery process, which now is only a 15-day process.

Since the new laws were passed by the state Legislature, Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson and several police chiefs, including Snellings, have publicly stated the new laws will increase the workload on department personnel and will have a negative impact.

On Tuesday, Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, said during his weekly conference call with regional news media that his office has received a “tremendous” amount of response on the new criminal justice reform laws since the start of the new year. Reed said he hopes lawmakers and the governor’s office will backtrack from their original stance on the new criminal justice reform laws.

“This is getting out of hand,” Reed said. “They’ve put our communities at risk.”

In other business, Snellings also discussed the installation of new security cameras downtown. He said two cameras — located at Second and Washington streets and Third and Washington streets — are more than 10 years old and will be replaced. He also said four cameras will be installed at new location. The proposed locations include Eighth and Washington streets, Third and North Main streets, Second and Buffalo streets, and Forest and Newland avenues.

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