The Town of Greece Police Department handles over 85, 000 calls for service annually while providing law enforcement services to the 95,499 people (2019 US Census Bureau) who reside within the 47.52 square miles of Town land area. The Department has provided law enforcement services to the community since 1932.
The Greece Police Department is a New York State Accredited agency. The Department was initially accredited in 1994 and has maintained its accreditation status since. The accreditation program encompasses four principle goals, those being: To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement agencies utilizing existing personnel, equipment and facilities to the extent possible; To promote increased cooperation and coordination among law enforcement agencies and other agencies of the criminal justice services; To ensure the appropriate training of law enforcement personnel; and To promote public confidence in law enforcement agencies (New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services). An agency must demonstrate to New York State Assessors compliance with the 110 standards as established by the New York State Accreditation Council.
On August 17, 2020, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed Executive Order 203 – the ‘New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative’ which required local police agencies to develop a plan that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs in their community based on community input. The Town of Greece formed a Police Reform and Reinvention Committee to perform the above duties. This Committee included members and leaders of the Greece Police, members of the community, and members of the non-profit and faith-based community, the local office of the district attorney, the local public defender, and local elected officials. The committee was charged with:
- Reviewing the needs of the community served by its police agency;
- Evaluating the police agency’s current policies and practices;
- Establishing policies or recommending adjustments to current policies that allow police to effectively and safely perform their duties;
- Developing policy recommendations resulting from this review;
- Offering a plan for public comment, and;
- Presenting the plan to the Town Board to ratify or adopt it.
Supervisor Reilich and the Greece Town Board invited the residents of Greece to participate in a Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Survey. The survey was available to Greece residents from January 2nd until January 16th. The survey was launched as a way to give the community a voice at a time when groups and gatherings were prohibited due to COVID restrictions. The results served to focus the committee on topics important to the Greece Community. They are as follows:
- Investigation of Crimes, including crimes against people and property and those involving drugs.
- Targeted patrols of high crime areas.
- Vehicle and Traffic Law enforcement.
- Response to quality of life issues (noise complaints, nuisance locations, loitering, etc.)
- Programs geared toward developing and maintaining positive relationships with community members.
- Participation in Police-Community forums.
- Victim support services.
- Social media presence/outreach.
In developing this plan, the Town of Greece Collaborative Committee and/or committee members considered, among other topics of study and research, all of the following areas relevant to police reform as set forth in the Governor’s Executive Order Number 203: Evidence-based policing strategies, including but not limited to, use of force policies and procedural justice; Studies addressing systemic racial bias or racial justice in policing; Implicit bias awareness training; De-escalation training and practices; Law enforcement assisted diversion programs; Restorative justice practices; Community-based outreach and conflict resolution; Problem-oriented policing; hot spots policing; Focused deterrence; Crime prevention through environmental design; Violence prevention and reduction interventions; Model policies and guidelines promulgated by the New York State Municipal Police Training Council; and Standards promulgated by the New York State Law Enforcement Accreditation Program. Although all of these areas were considered, not all of these items were deemed to be imperative topics set forth in the initial improvement goals recommended by the Collaborative Committee. Because this plan is intended to be a continuous improvement plan and a living document, any topics not made an immediate priority may become priority topics to be addressed in the future.
The committee considered that change can be viewed as not something which is imposed, but rather a voluntary on-going process of evaluation and improvement. The committee also considered an empowered police officer is best prepared to serve and empower members of the community. The following recommendations and associated commentary were agreed upon by members of the committee:
- Enhance community outreach to reach a larger and more diverse group of people by participating in community meetings and enhancing social media outreach by enlisting faith-based organizations and community groups as networking force multipliers.
- Implementation of an on-going customer service survey program geared toward reaching a larger and more diverse group of people. The results to be considered in the Police Department internal evaluation and improvement processes.
- Improved focus on Department member well-being so they are best prepared to serve the community. The focus will encompass:
- Training regarding available mental health services, identifying signs and symptoms of a person struggling psychologically and how to effectively intervene.
- Fostering a culture of self-evaluation, empathy, caring for one another, and freedom to feel and talk about emotions.
- Implement procedures wherein Department members are provided more opportunities to provide input and receive feedback related to the policy development and personnel-related decision making processes.
- Implement a Department Chaplain Program wherein members readily have access to Clergy.
- Provide members free access to enhanced exercise facilities on the Town Hall Campus.
- Enhance ability to effectively interact, and develop positive relationships, with diverse groups of people
- Obtain training for Department members related to cultural differences and effective communication with diverse groups of people.
- Implement Chaplain Program and offer as a resource to community members in need.
- Develop the Victim and Witness Advocate program into a more proactive program.
- Strive to ensure all Patrol Officers receive Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) within the next several years via sending groups to training on a regular basis, subject to open classes per the Monroe County Public Safety Training Facility.
- Update the Vehicle Pursuit policy to reflect enhanced risk management language.
- Research tools that can be utilized to reduce risk of injury in force situations
- Establish a grant search/writing program to obtain funding enabling the Department to obtain devices and de-escalation training designed to reduce risk of injury to all involved during potentially volatile encounters.
- Enhance current Crime Analysis/Info Sharing program via designating personnel to focus on tracking trends and pattern recognition. Disseminate information accordingly to be used in developing targeted enforcement strategies.
- Enhance Crime Prevention through environmental design initiatives. Utilize Community Services Unit-sponsored events to educate community members regarding how to “police the community “and deter crime.
- Law-enforcement assisted diversion programs
- Establish liaison/POC with County agencies (DA/Family Court, etc.) to foster having the most up to date information related to diversion programs and related procedures.
The Department will strive to implement the aforementioned recommendations within the next twelve months unless otherwise noted, notwithstanding superseding Executive Orders or Legislation.