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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.

Long Island Rally Calls For 'People's Plan' For Police Reform

Community groups on Long Island rallied outside of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's office on Monday to call on lawmakers to adopt the so-called "people’s plan" for police reform.

The “people’s plan” was drafted by community task forces and advocacy groups. They want reforms included in a plan that’s due to the state in April. It’s separate from the version Bellone submitted to lawmakers last week.

Jackie Burbridge, co-founder of the Long Island Black Alliance, said she wants an end to pretextual stops, when an officer pulls someone over and then tries to investigate a more serious allegation.

"These interactions do place the community members in the position of vulnerability,” Burbridge said. “It’s not that people are being brutalized because cops see threats. They don’t see threats in our community. They see prey. And we need police reform that’s going to address that.”

Burbridge also wants no-knock warrants eliminated and police removed from school — none of which is included in Suffolk’s police reform plan. Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart has acknowledged some policies have led to unequal policing of communities of color.

The group said they want lawmakers to consider measures that substitute police when mental health counselors are more appropriate for certain interactions with the public.

“We need to get to the root cause of why crime happens and how we can address it and prevent it from happening,” said Elmer Flores with Long Island United to Transform Policing and Community Safety. “But to do that, it requires leadership. It requires bold and effective action that is going to change the way policing happens on Long Island.”

Suffolk’s police reform proposal directs the county human rights commission to review complaints of police misconduct. But the police department would still have the power to investigate and discipline police misconduct.

The “people’s plan” would create a community council to review and hold police accountable for misconduct.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.