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Public hearing set for March 16 on town’s police reform plan

Riverhead Town’s Law Enforcement Advisory Panel’s plan for “police reform and reinvention” will be the subject of a public hearing on March 16 at 2 p.m.

The public hearing notice says the report will be made public by March 2.

The public cannot attend the hearing in person due to COVID-19 restrictions, but can do so online via Zoom. 

The panel — known as LEAP — was appointed by the Town Board in October in order to comply with an executive order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo requiring all municipalities with police departments to adopt a new policing plan by April 1, 2021.

The executive order calls for a “comprehensive review” of current police force policies and practices, and orders departments to develop a plan to improve them to address community needs and to “promote community engagement to foster trust, fairness, and legitimacy, and to address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color.” 

The governor’s executive order came in response to a number of nationwide incidents involving alleged racial bias.

The panel comprises law enforcement, government and community members and stakeholders and required them to examine police policies by conducting a survey of residents on policing issues, and by holding two public “listening sessions.”

The survey drew more than 1,200 responses, officials said, although two “listening sessions” conducted by LEAP drew only about seven speakers combined. 

The plan will be available on the town’s website.