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WSHU's Charles Lane follows the different paths taken by Suffolk and Nassau counties on Long Island to undergo mandated police reform.

Nassau Drafts Surprise Police Reform Plan With Limited Input

Elvert Barnes

In a hastily called public hearing, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder presented a draft proposal to reform policing in the county. His presentation of the plan was vague, opaque and left community members stunned that it was done in closed doors without the knowledge of the very groups formed to help draft the plan.

The most significant proposed changes appear to include new policies banning chokeholds, better data collection on traffic stops, regular public release of arrest data, more police on bicycles, increased anti-bias training and changes in mental health response.

Ryder offered almost no specifics on the list of reforms, but said a 310-page report would soon be posted by County Executive Laura Curran.

The draft plan is in response to an executive order from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that requires police departments to engage with community groups on proposed changes.

Those groups called Ryder’s presentation “lip-service,” “an edict” and “not a conversation.”

In an emotional appeal, Shanequa Levin with the group Long Island Black Alliance, said she had so many recommendations that she wanted to share, but Ryder drafted the plan before they could officially meet.

“This isn’t just about how we can improve a system. This is about my brother’s life, my son’s life, my husband’s life. This is real stuff that we encounter on a daily basis,” she said.

Dissatisfied with the reform efforts from the police commissioner, several groups said they were drafting their own plan. They urged lawmakers to at least consider it.

Chair of the Nassau County Legislature’s Public Safety Community, Denise Ford, promised that there would be future public hearing on police reform. The deadline for submitting a final plan to the state is April 1.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.