Town of Clarkstown Police DepartmentPolice Reform and Reinvention Plan
Table of ContentsI.IntroductionII.Town of Clarkstown and Town of Clarkstown Police DepartmentIII.Executive Order 203 ProcessIV.Stakeholder and Community MeetingsPublic MeetingV.Role of Police DepartmentMental HealthYouth OutreachCrime Prevention through Environmental DesignLaw Enforcement in SchoolsVI.Policing Standards and StrategiesCrowd ControlProcedural Justice and Community PolicingProhibited Race Based 911 CallsRacial Justice/Racial ProfilingStop & FriskPretext StopsChokeholdsQuotasVehicle PursuitsShooting and Moving VehiclesSwat and No Knock WarrantsLess Lethal Force
VII.Strategies To Build TrustSummons and Warrantless ArrestsDiversion ProgramsLEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion)Hope Not HandcuffsRestorative JusticeHot Spot Policing and Focused DeterrenceHate Crime InvestigationsVIII.Community Engagement and OutreachIX.Fostering Community- Oriented Leadership Culture and AccountabilityStaffing and RecruitmentX.Tracking and Reviewing Use of ForceUse of Force PolicyForce Monitoring and InvestigationXI.Internal AccountabilityIntegrity Investigations and DispositionsXII.Civilian OversightXIII.Data Technology and TransparencyXIV.Training and Continuing EducationYearly Training RequirementsXV.Model Policies and StandardsXVI.Officer Wellness
I. INTRODUCTIONThe Town of Clarkstown, in conjunction with the Town of Clarkstown PoliceDepartment, has drafted this assessment report and plan of action in response to ExecutiveOrder 203, which was promulgated by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on June 12, 2020.Executive Order 203 was entitled “New York State Police Reform and ReinventionCollaborative,” and followed immediately on the heels of widespread, nationwide protests. Theprotests called into question not only how police handled specific incidents which precipitatedthe protests, but also matters of overall police legitimacy and their role in society, particularlyperceived racial inequities in policing and how police dealt with persons in crisis.The Executive Order essentially required local governments and police agencies, inconjunction with the community, to engage in a reform effort to eliminate inequities andinequalities by reforming and modernizing police procedures, strategies, and tactics. The endresults of Executive Order 203 calls for the Chief Executive of the municipality to submit a planto the State of New York for approval. The purpose of the plan was to elucidate how we couldbetter “foster trust, fairness and legitimacy,” and to “address any racial bias anddisproportionate policing of communities of color.”Upon cursory review of Executive Order 203, it appeared that the Town of ClarkstownPolice Department was in compliance with many of the mandates outlined therein. It wouldhave been easy to leave it at that, but what soon followed allowed for important reflection onwhat the Department was already doing, and what the Department could do even bettermoving forward. It gave us a reason to look at what we do, and to find opportunities forimprovement going forward. We found that we did many things right, but also found ways wecould improve upon what we were doing in order to better serve our residents, and those whocome to Clarkstown to conduct business, work, and shop. Moreover, it would allow us to set anexample as to how professional police departments should conduct themselves.
What follows in this report is the analysis and process which we endeavored uponstarting in the fall of last year, and which most recently concluded with public forums whereinmembers of the public were invited to give their criticisms of the Department, and to give theirsuggestions as to how the Town of Clarkstown and its police department could better serve itspopulace.
II. TOWN OF CLARKSTOWN POLICE DEPARTMENTThe Town of Clarkstown is approximately 20 miles north of New York City. Thetown is 47 square miles and the current population is approximately 87,000 people. Threevillages and eight hamlets comprise the Town of Clarkstown. The Clarkstown Police Departmentconsists of 160 sworn officers, 13 dispatchers, plus 24 additional support staff. The PoliceDepartment itself was formed in 1936, and it has been an accredited agency since 1998. Themost recent accreditation took place in 2018. A copy of our most recent Reassessment Report,dated March 26, 2018, is annexed hereto as Exhibit A. In 2019, Clarkstown Police Departmenthad 58,916 Calls for Services, made 1,188 arrests, resulting in 2,929 criminal charges, and wasresponsible for 11,368 vehicle and traffic enforcement actions.The principles embodied in Executive Order 203 are not new ones to the agency,and this Department has continually strived to deliver excellence to its constituents. ExecutiveOrder 203 specifically noted accreditation as being an aspirational object to fulfill the objectivesof Executive Order 203. Constant self-assessment and commitment to improvement in the wayin which we deliver our services, and in how we deal with the public, has given a significantadvantage in meeting the goals and requirements of Executive Order 203. As a guidingprinciple, our Mission Statement has put us on our way to fulfilling the aspirations of ExecutiveOrder 203. The Mission Statement reads:MISSION STATEMENTThis mission of the Clarkstown Police Department is to work in partnership with theClarkstown community in order to provide the most professional and ethical police service,protect life and property, without passion or prejudice, bring to justice those who violate thelaw, reduce fear of crime, and promote the quality of life so that the Town of Clarkstowncontinues to be one of the safest and most desirable places in the country to live, raise afamily and conduct business.
III. EXECUTIVE ORDER 203 PROCESSUpon promulgation of Executive Order 203, Supervisor George Hoehmann and theClarkstown Police Department administration began to communicate how they could besttackle the task of reform which was before them. An initial outline was made as to how theTown of Clarkstown would proceed, and how this process fit in with the rubric of ExecutiveOrder 203’s parameters.Supervisor George Hoehmann began an outreach with the goal of assembling abroad, inclusive committee of stakeholders. It would have been an empty overture to simplystack the committee with a homogenous group of people who would have been likely to belargely supportive of police, and who were from a rather narrow socio-economic background.Accordingly, the Supervisor culled the larger Clarkstown community, even reaching out topeople who, although they were not Clarkstown residents, acted as surrogates for Clarkstownresidents through their involvement with various cultural and civic organizations, such as theNAACP, and the Nyack Housing Authority.In all, Supervisor Hoehmann enlisted the input of 24 stakeholders. Of those 24,11 would be considered to be people of color. Careful deliberation was had in order to ensurethat a broad demographic base was included. Accordingly, Supervisor Hoehmann reached outto civic organizations, religious organizations, cultural institutions, chambers of commerce,social justice organizations, mental health professionals, attorneys, medical professionals, andtax paying residents from our local wards.
We can confidently say that every voice was included, and our effort was not merelyperformative. Below is a specific list of the organizations which were represented in ourstakeholder committee: 3 representatives from National Association for Advancement of Colored People(NAACP) Islamic Center of Rockland Redeeming Love Christian Center Chabad of the Nyacks (Jewish Cultural Organization) Bridges (Disability advocacy and support organization) New City Chamber of Commerce, President Montefiore Hospital Mental and Medical Center African-American Historical Society of Rockland Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center Retired Yonkers Police Chief and owner of public safety consulting company) Jeevan-Jyoti( Indian-American Senior Support Organization) Nanuet Chamber of Commerce, President Filipino Association of Rockland Ward 1 Community Member Ward 2 Community Member Ward 3 Community member Ward 4 Community Member Police Chaplain Rockland County District Attorney Director of Nyack Village Housing Authority Rockland County District Attorney Diversion Program director Public Defenders OfficeFrom the Clarkstown Police Department, Chief McCullagh assembled a committee. Thecommittee included Chief McCullagh, Captain Jeff Wanamaker, in addition to six (6) otherofficers of varying rank and experience, from Patrol Officers, to Lieutenants. The most juniorofficers have only a few years of employment with the Town of Clarkstown, and the moresenior officers had as much as 23 years of employment with the Department.It was important to enlist officers with different ranks and experiences so that we couldgather the broadest array of opinions and experiences. More importantly, the officers andadministrators chosen represent the future of the Department and will be charged withimplementing these policies for many years to come.
IV. STAKEHOLDER AND COMMUNITY MEETINGSStakeholder MeetingsAt the onset, it was determined that we would hold 4 meetings with stakeholders. Dueto the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we had to be nimble in order to facilitate stakeholdercollaboration. To that end, in addition to in person meetings, we offered a Zoom option forthose who did not wish to attend in person. Meetings were commenced with members of thePolice Department providing information to the stakeholders as to how matters were currentlyconducted at the Police Department. PowerPoint presentations were given and stakeholderswere provided with copies of the presentation so that they could better digest the material andbe prepared for discussion. During the presentations, the floor was open for any stakeholdersto join in the discussion with questions, critiques, or compliments. Meetings were held on thefollowing dates and the following topics were covered during each session:October 28, 2020 – Introduction of Stakeholders, Town Officials, a general overview ofpolice department services.November 10, 2020 – Mental Health and Persons in Crisis, Youth Services and Outreach,Domestic Disputes and Relations, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, CrowdControl, Stop and Frisk, Chokeholds, Informal Quotas, Shooting at Moving Vehicles, SWATDeployment, Crisis NegotiationDecember 3, 2020 – Less Lethal Force Options and Policy, Strategies To Build Trust,Warrantless Arrests, Diversion Programs, Cultural Outreach, Police in Schools, RestorativeJustice, Data Driven Enforcement, De-escalation, Bias Crime Investigations, Recruitment &Promotion.January 13, 2021 – Open forum for stakeholders. The Police Department and SupervisorHoehmann spoke only in response to questions. The meeting was entirely stakeholder centric,and was scheduled with the sole intent of having Town officials and Police Departmentpersonnel listen.
Public MeetingsFebruary 3, 2021: Our first public information meeting was held. The meeting was opento the public via several electronic means, including a live internet broadcast , and via a livetelephone call-in. Following introductory statements from Supervisor Hoehmann and ChiefMcCullagh, the forum was opened up to members of the public to comment on the PoliceDepartment, to ask questions about how business was conducted in the regular course, and tooffer their own suggestions as to how the Police Department could improve. A second publiccomment meeting was conducted on March 16, 2021 following the same parameters.At the conclusion of the public meetings, we set about writing our final assessmentreport and plan of action which was then presented to members of the public, stakeholders,and the Town of Clarkstown Town Board.
V. ROLE OF LAW ENFORCEMENTMental HealthDealing with persons in crisis is endemic in law enforcement. Executive Order 203 statesthat, “Officers must be trained in how to recognize people with mental health issues,” and that“De-Escalation starts with effective communication.” As an agency, we could not agree more.Our aim is to respond to events and to handle them in a humane, compassionate way.Accordingly, we put a priority on how we deal with these situations, including yearly trainingwhere officers must engage in de-escalation and learn to effectively communicate withindividuals in crisis. Our triage of people in crisis begins with our dispatchers who handle theinitial calls. Communication between officers and dispatchers is crucial in reaching a favorableresolution. Officer and dispatcher experience can allow us to glean important informationsuch as: An individual’s mental health and medical historyIllegal or prescription drug useMental health diagnosisCurrent behaviorHistory of violent behaviorWhy 911 was calledIn 2019, the Clarkstown Police Department documented the following statistics indealing with people in crisis, in one capacity or another: 861 Domestic Disputes589 Persons in Crisis345 Welfare Checks85 Intoxicated Persons65 Overdoses, (14 of which were deadly, many more were saved through use ofNarCan and training) 11 Attempted Suicides 3 Completed SuicidesAs part of our efforts to effectively deal with people in crisis, we have providedspecialized Crisis Intervention Training (C.I.T.) to approximately 20 of our officers.
Although all of our officers have training, in situations where an officer meets resistance, theCIT officers are available to be dispatched to scenes to render aid. General Order 545, annexedhereto as Exhibit B, outlines the protocol. Additionally, we have an on-going relationship withthe Rockland County Behavioral Response Team. This team is part of Rockland Paramedics andhas highly specialized training. They are available to respond to scenes when the situation isbeyond the capability of our officers.For those instances which truly present themselves as dire situations, where one isthreatening themselves or others and is resistant to assistance, Clarkstown Police has aCrisis/Hostage Negotiation Team. Initial certification includes a 40 hour training with theFederal Bureau of Investigation. Ongoing training occurs once per month for the sevenmembers of the team, some of whom have additional certifications beyond the initial training.Going ForwardAs our community continues to become more diverse, we added the HostageNegotiation Team’s first Spanish speaking officers just last year to assist in situations where theaided party is not fluent in English. Additionally, through successful lobbying, the RocklandCounty Police Academy has added a fifth day of mental health training, now requiring therecruiting pool from which we hire to have forty hours in mental health training in order tograduate. We have also committed to getting more of our officers to attend Crisis InterventionTraining. The more officers in the field who have this additional training, the better the needs ofthose truly in crisis can be served.In March of 2021, Clarkstown Police were chosen to participate in a Mapping Program.During the program, key stakeholders will come together with experienced facilitators toidentify strengths and weaknesses in how our current system performs. A “Map” is created tosee how individuals in crisis or with mental illness interact with the criminal justice and mentalhealth systems. The report to be written after the Mapping exercise will include suggestions forrefining the response system and making it better for all involved.
Additionally, we recently entered into an agreement involving the Mental HealthAssociation of Rockland (MHA). Copy annexed hereto as Exhibit C. The agreement provides thatClarkstown Police Department will: Promote Adult Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)and Youth Mental Health First Aidin the community Participate in a Mental Health First Aid Advisory Committee to help ensureoutreach to the community is maximized Participate in MHFA and Youth MHFA by offering training to Police Officers,Dispatchers, and other first responders Train a Police Sergeant, who is also a Crisis Intervention Instructor, to become aMHFA and Youth MHFA Instructor, and provide training to officers throughoutRockland County Connecting people in our community with the MHA of Rockland throughreferrals for their services and trainingThe conversations have taken place and people in our community, as well in society atlarge, have raised the issue of whether police should respond at all to persons in crisis calls.During the public comment session, several residents called in to express their concerns as tohow we handle these types of calls. We are quite mindful of those concerns. So as to have anexpert voice, we have included the Director of Nyack Montefiore on our stakeholdercommittee. Nyack Montefiore is our local Mental Hygiene 9.41 hospital. It was imperative forus to have their input. As mindful as we are, we are also quite confident that our training andcandidate selection puts us in a position to successfully handle these types of calls. As noted inour Use of Force Policy and training discussion, we put a premium on de-escalation techniquesand communicating our way through a problem as part of our culture. Naturally, we areamenable to input as to how we may handle these matters better in the future.
Youth OutreachAs part of our outreach to the youth of our community, Clarkstown Police Departmentoffers a variety of programs which are open to anyone who wants to participate. Theseprograms serve several purposes. First, they are a way to engage with young people. Second,they educate the participants about how the Police Department and the legal system operate.Third, they can serve as a base of recruitment for the participating students when they get tothe age where they can take police civil service exams.Youth Academy - Youth Academy is a 10-week program which meets once perweek, and includes 20 to 30 local high school students per semester. Enrollment is open to anystudent who attends a high school within the Town of Clarkstown, and also residents ofClarkstown who may attend private schools or schools which fall within another school district.The program is overseen by the Detective Sergeant from our Juvenile Aid Bureau, and he isassisted by School Resource officers who assist with instruction and recruitment of students toenroll.Students are introduced to job responsibilities of police officers and the matters theydeal with on a regular basis. Lessons and training included hands-on experiences. Students areoffered classes on criminal investigation, crime scene forensics, defensive tactics, vehicle andtraffic enforcement, firearms training, K-9 deployment, and police-related simulator training(Virtra machine).Lessons and discussions between students and police personnel about law enforcementrelated current events occur throughout the academy. Students and officers examine currenttrends in law enforcement, as well as high profile, newsworthy stories, some of which reflectpositively on law enforcement, some of which do not.Police Explorers - Clarkstown Police Department also offers a Police Explorersprogram, which was established in 2002. The program utilizes the Learning For Life (Scout)guidelines for youth between the ages of 14 - 20. It is for youth who are interested in learningabout law enforcement.
Bi-monthly meetings are held and activities are scheduled, which are aimed at providingleadership skills, life experiences, and community service. Like the Youth Academy, Explorersare exposed to various facets of law enforcement and partake in law enforcement relatedactivities. Part of the aim of the program is to develop problem solving skills, leadership skills,and instill a sense of community service in participants. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, theExplorers had conducted approximately 750 hours of community service at such events asParades, Police Department Open House and Recruitment, Cystic Fibrosis Walk, and DAREBasketball Tournament among other functions.Youth Court - As outlined in another part of this report, Clarkstown also operatesits own Youth Court program. Participation by juvenile offenders is strictly voluntary. Inaddition, the program is administered by students from the community between the ages of13-18. These student volunteers serve as Prosecutor, Defense Attorney, Court Clerk, Bailiff andJudge, in proceedings for minor crimes and violations committed by local youth. All of thoseinvolved receive training in how the legal process works and become active participants in theproceedings. They are also exposed to guest lecturers and instruction by police officers,judges, prosecutors, social workers, and defense attorneys from the community. Like the otherprograms, Youth Court is open to any student in our community who lives or attends school inthe Town of Clarkstown.
Crime Prevention through Environmental DesignThe concept of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design involves “the properdesign and effective use of the built environment that can lead to a reduction in fear andincidence of crime and an improvement in the quality of life.” In short, it means designing andfortifying the environment, natural or otherwise, in such a way that it maximizes safety for itsusers, and deters attempts at crime by those with nefarious intent. The key concepts in CrimePrevention Through Environmental Design are:1. Natural Surveillance – Allow offenders to be easily viewable by those on theproperty or passing by2. Territorial Reinforcement – Give perception that someone is in control of theproperty using landscape, pavement, signs, etc.3. Natural Access Control – Decrease opportunity for offenders by denying accessto offender and increasing risk of apprehension4. Maintenance – Allow for continued use of property, further expression ofownership5. Target Hardening – Enhance security through use of windows, doors, locks,security system, human visibilitySpecific things that may be changed or enhanced include, but are not limited to, lightingaround the property, layout of the property, maintenance of the property, Landscaping,accessibility of property, and any security measures which may be taken to enhance the wellbeing and safety of lawful property users.Clarkstown Police are proud to boast that we now have four officers who are trained inCrime Prevention Through Environmental Design. Two of our officers completed the 40 hourbasic class. Two additional officers completed the basic 40 hour class, as well as the advancedclass which was an additional 40 hours.Officers in our Office of Emergency Management work closely with local schools, housesof worship, and businesses in implementing safety plans and hardening targets to deter andprevent anyone who might wish to cause worshippers, students, or customers harm.
For instance, Clarkstown is home to the largest mosque in Rockland County, as well as avery large Jewish cultural center, the Jewish Community Center of Rockland County (JCC).Working with security and management at these facilities, officers conducted comprehensiveaudits of the properties. Observations were made as to where security was weak and wherethere were vulnerabilities. Further, concrete suggestions were made as to tangible steps whichcould be taken to make facilities more secure, while at the same time maintaining a warm,welcoming environment.Audits such as those listed above have been repeated in buildings town wide and theresponse has been overwhelming! Other than the cost of training, this is a low cost, low impactway to not only reach out to our community, but to actually attain tangible results.
Law Enforcement in SchoolsExecutive Order 203 raises the specter that when police are placed in schools, it cancreate an environment where “unnecessary contact between youth and the criminal justicesystem for what would otherwise be considered truancy or teenage misbehavior.” We sharesimilar concerns, as do our local schools. Accordingly, our interactions and ground rules aregoverned by this.Clarkstown Police Department has had a long standing, positive relationship with ourlocal school district. Our DARE program has been around for over thirty years, and we have hadSchool Resource Officers in local high schools for over twenty years. As a matter of fact, wewere one of the first departments in our area to have an SRO program.In response to the Newtown school shooting in December, 2012, Clarkstown Policeissued Administrative Order 2013-02. Exhibit D. The Order calls for on-duty police to do at leastone daily walk through of schools in their assigned area of patrol. The walk through is to bedone at random intervals. The police presence at unscheduled times is to serve as deterrenceto any who do harm, and as a reassurance for students, parents, and educators that policeresources and personnel are always available and nearby in the event of an emergency. Theprogram has gotten an overwhelming response for all stakeholders, while serving a vital lawenforcement and public safety purpose.The first consideration in our programs with local schools is that we are there solely atthe invitation and discretion of the schools themselves. Meaning, at any time they may revokethe invitation and proceed without the programs. They may also request that a particularofficer is not suited for the role and insist that the officer be removed. As equal partners, that istheir prerogative and we have accommodated them in the past in this respect.Establishing good relations with educational institutions and with the studentpopulation is a worthwhile goal and has paid dividends for the community. Acts of violencehave been prevented, fights have been averted, and nefarious conduct has been ferreted out.
Nonetheless, we are all too mindful that any overreach by the involved officers couldjeopardize those relationships. Accordingly, as evidenced in the attached Memorandum ofUnderstanding between the Town of Clarkstown Police Department and the Clarkstown CentralSchool District, Section II, C(9), specifically states, “The SRO shall not act as a schooldisciplinarian, as disciplining students is a school responsibility.” Exhibit E. For all partiesconcerned, we felt it important that those parameters be established, so as not to jeopardizerelationships with the students.Going ForwardBuilding trust with the community, particularly young people, is an important goal of theClarkstown Police Department. Also important is assisting in conflict resolution betweenstudents. Our School Resource Officer program has allowed us to do that. As schools evolve,we will evolve with them. Only with their cooperation and invitation can these programssucceed.
VI. POLICING STANDARDS AND STRATEGIESCrowd ControlOne of the concerns raised in Executive Order 203 is how police respond to crowdcontrol situations. The directive proffers that such interactions should be demilitarized. Wetend to agree with that assessment and we have modeled our own actions accordingly. Thepreamble to the portion of Executive Order 203 dealing with crowd control reads:“The policies and procedures police agencies employ for crowd controlshould minimize the appearance of a military operation and use of force,prioritize citizens’ First Amendment rights and effective communication withdemonstrators, avoid the use of provocative tactics and equipment thatundermine civilian trust, utilize “soft look” uniforms and open postures insteadof riot gear and military formation when it is safe to do so, and employ a layeredresponse that prioritizes de-escalation.”It has long been the policy of the Clarkstown Police Department to vigorously protectthe right of the citizenry to assemble in the exercise of free speech, while ensuring the right ofother citizens to carry on in their usual course of business, unmolested, and in a safe manner.Indeed, as part of our oath, we are charged with the duty to protect the right of protestors tobe heard in a safe manner. The goal is to do this in such a way that permits the safe flow ofvehicle and pedestrian traffic, while being respectful of those who wish to be heard.Like many other jurisdictions, we encountered a fair share of protest last summer and itcan be said that all were handled successfully without any undue conflict. It was determinedthat pre-operation planning, communication, and collaboration to ensure public safety, was thebest approach. Meaning, through respectful communication, parameters were established withprotest organizers ahead of time, and we adjusted our approach accordingly. Respect andcommunication allowed is to avert any conflict.When situations necessitate, we are required to provide uniformed personnel atprotests, but our goal is always to do so in as unobtrusive manner as possible, recognizing thatuniformed presence could have an antagonistic quality.
As a matter of fact, in order to minimize interactions which may be considered antagonistic, tothe extent practicable, we maintain our personnel at the periphery of demonstrations, even outof view, if at all possible. Additionally, we utilize modern means, including the services of ourUnmanned Aerial Vehicle (drone) Unit. Utilizing the drone allows us to monitor the situationwhile not having to impose uniformed presence in the vicinity of protestors. Again, thisminimizes any antagonism, and also removes the opportunity for unfavorable police-civilianinteractions.With respect to the concern expressed in Executive Order 203, regarding the use ofmilitary surplus equipment, it can be undeniably stated that we do not currently possess anymilitary surplus equipment, nor do we actively participate in the 1033 program. That being said,in crowd control situations, our utmost objective is to permit the fre
Town of Clarkstown and Town of Clarkstown Police Department III. Executive Order 203 Process IV. Stakeholder and Community Meetings Public Meeting . advantage in meeting the goals and requirements of Executive Order 203. As a guiding . Retired Yonkers Police