June 23, 2020
To: All citizens of Steuben County
From: The Steuben County Chiefs of Police Association
Re: The Governor’s Executive Order, New York State Police Reform and Reinventing Collaborative
The police officers of Steuben County are united in their commitment to service and professional policing in our communities. From Hornell to Corning, Wayland to Bath, and everywhere in between, your police officers are dedicated professionals, who, as your neighbors, friends and family, meet the challenge every day to provide security, safety and assistance to the people they serve and protect. Whether meeting the needs of their respective communities on duty or off duty, as volunteer firefighters, coaches, school board members or legislative representatives, your police officers are an integral part of the fabric of Steuben County and its towns, villages and cities.
Currently, the policing profession is under attack as the alleged primary cause and example of racism, bigotry, income disparity, and almost every other conceivable social injustice in the United States today. These allegations are made while we see: armed insurrectionists in Seattle occupying a portion of that city as an invading and conquering army proudly pronouncing it “cop free”; persons committing arson, burglary, larceny, criminal mischief and assault as crimes of opportunity while others peacefully protest; our state government hastily pass a series of laws which conflict with other laws recently passed, state mandates and training standards – once again putting political expediency above public safety. Despite what we all see, law enforcement has been called upon to “reinvent and reform” our profession due to these allegations. All of these calls to reform are based on the false assumption that the standards, practices and policies of law enforcement are racist and biased at their core, that law enforcement as a whole has no accountability for their actions and that police are inherently prone to unjustified violence.
Each of us must analyze the information and decide for ourselves what the criminal justice needs are for our community. When doing so, please ask yourself this question: Does my personal experience with our local law enforcement officers match the current political rhetoric and national media platform, or does my experience align with a different conclusion? All law enforcement agencies in New York State, by law, were required last year to adopt the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services model use of force policy. This policy was established by the New York State Municipal Police Training Counsel, approved by the Governor, and adopted by the Division of Criminal Justice Services. This policy was in accordance with NYS Law Enforcement Accreditation Standards and was very similar to the majority of police use of force policies in practice across the nation. NYS Accreditation Standards, as approved by the Governor, and adopted by the Division of Criminal Justice Services, also outline the manner in which agencies receive and review citizen complaints, investigate citizen complaints, train officers, recruit officers and complete background investigations on potential officers. All of these policies currently exist and are almost uniformly utilized by our agencies.
Is there a need for improved relations between the police and minority communities? The answer is definitely yes. Is there a need for inclusion and civil discourse where perspectives are shared and stereotypes are broken down? The answer again is yes. Your police officers, Chiefs of Police, Deputies and Sheriff are committed to providing excellent, ethical and uniform policing to all citizens in Steuben County. We have never needed to be extorted by the Governor to accomplish this. All of your Steuben County Law Enforcement Agencies are engaged currently in on-going trainings, discourse and community outreach programs to meet the needs of our friends and neighbors. Be reassured that our police officers and deputy sheriffs are fulfilling their oaths each and every day to serve to the best of their abilities and our police administrators will continue to strive to provide the very best in training, policy, procedures and tactics to keep us all safe from harm and meet the public’s safety needs. Your public servants, whether it be the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office or the Police Departments of the Cities of Corning and Hornell, the Villages of Addison, Bath, Canisteo, Hammondsport, Painted Post, Wayland and the Towns of Caton and Cohocton thank you for your continued support and pledge our never-ending service.