ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — After George Floyd’s death, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered all police departments in the state to evaluate and make changes their policies by midnight on April 1 or risk losing state funding.
When it comes to police reform, the Schenectady Police Department said many changes have already been made to its policies such as the addition of a new advisory panel to help with the department’s hiring process.
“That advisory panel is made up of local community members, and they have the opportunity to interview the candidates,” explained Sgt. Matt Dearing, Schenectady Police Department.
When it comes to use of force, Sgt. Dearing said a change was made back in July.
“There is a section in the policy that specifically states, the placement of an officer’s knee and body weight on the head of an individual attempting to control the individual is prohibited, unless deadly physical force is authorized. It goes on to say, nor should an officer use a knee to the head to control that individual, unless no other option is available,” said Dearing.
Thursday, a crowd gathered outside of Schenectady City Hall to voice their concerns wanting the use of this type of force to be completely banned.
“We are here about the knee holds that were banned last year in Schenectady, after the murder of George Floyd, after the 13 demands, after one of Schenectady’s residents had the same attack on him—or a similar one, that left him injured. The City of Schenectady banned use of knee holds to the head. There was no reason to bring them back,” said Shawn Young, Co-founder of All of Us.
In nearby Rotterdam, the town unanimously passed it’s department’s police reform plan. The department wanted to become more transparent.
“One of the biggest ways we felt like we could do that, was to institute body cameras for all of our officers,”explained Shawn Young, co-founder of All of Us.
Every Rotterdam patrol officer will be wearing them in about a month. The Rotterdam Police Department has also focused on implicit bias and de-escalation training, something that Schenectady Police Department said they are focusing on as well.
Although the deadline for police reform plans are due at midnight, NEWS10 ABC was told changes can always be made to them in the future.