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Sheriff’s Office To Head Police Reforms In County

Chautauqua County Sheriff James Quattrone speaks about the progress of Executive Order 203 ­ Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative. Photo by Greg Bacon

MAYVILLE – Sheriff James Quattrone is taking the lead in helping all municipal police agencies meet a new state requirement to help address tensions between police and the general public, especially in the areas of racism and prejudice in local communities.

On June 12, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 203 directing municipalities to reinvent and modernize police strategies and programs. Each police agency’s reform plan must address policies, procedures, practices and deployment, including, but not limited to use of force and that plan needs to be certified by the local government. The reform plan needs to be submitted prior to April 1, 2021, or the state budget director is authorized to withhold funding which the local government would otherwise be eligible.

On Thursday, during a news conference, Quattrone said he is helping local municipalities move the process forward.

“As we work together as a team and as a group, we’re going to have some combined efforts,” he said.

In the end, each municipality will need to finalize what is best for its community.

Quattrone noted that some what Cuomo is ordering is already taking place.

“The majority of the requirements outlined in the executive order are already being done on a regular basis over the last several years,” he said. “We will continue to evaluate these policies.”

Quattrone said they are developing “stakeholder groups” to help develop the plans. Groups will include elected officials, emergency services, community board liaisons from both the northern and southern end of the county, and law enforcement. Over the next month, Quattrone said they will be sending out surveys to each of the stakeholder groups and will then make a survey available to the general public. The stakeholder groups will also be meeting to discuss current policies as well as review information collected from the surveys.

Once that is complete, a draft of the detailed police reform plan will be made.

Quattrone hopes to have the final plan completed by February for review by the county legislature and other municipal boards for certification.

“We all recognize that even the best agencies can find opportunities for improvement,” he said. “This process will better assist us for better engagement in our communities that we strive to keep safe and secure.”

Dunkirk Police Chief David Ortolano also spoke at the news conference on behalf of the mayor.

“Mayor (Wilfred) Rosas has told me he wants everyone to know that he has pledged his and our city’s administration’s full support for the regional effort going forward with this situation,” he said.

County Executive P.J. Wendel also expressed his support for Quattrone and his leadership in this matter.

“I couldn’t think of right now a better time or a better person to be in charge of this reform than Sheriff Quattrone,” he said.

Wendel also thanked all the police and municipal representatives that attended the press conference.

“We are doing things progressively and we are doing things the right way here in Chautauqua County,” he said.

To be in compliance with the order, each government entity which has a police agency operating with police officers must perform a comprehensive review of: current police force deployments; strategies; policies; procedures and practice; develop a plan to improve such deployments, strategies, policies, procedures and practices addressing the particular needs of the communities served by such police agency; promote community engagement to foster trust, fairness, and legitimacy; and address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color.

Along with the Sheriff’s Office, agencies that will be formally participating include the police departments of Jamestown, Lakewood/Busti, Ellicott, Westfield, Dunkirk, Fredonia, and Carroll. State Police, University Police at Fredonia and Chautauqua Institution are not formally taking part, however Quattrone said he interacts with those agencies and will be getting their input.

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