While the Newburgh City Council deliberated on the local law mandating police identification, the community gathered to make their voices heard.
“Black lives matter,” chanted a large group of residents as they marched down Broadway, through the City of Newburgh Police Department’s parking lot, and finally stopped outside of Newburgh’s City Hall.
Rene Mejia Jr., Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson community organizer, said mandated police identification will create more transparency between the police and the community.
Officers will be required to give their identifying information, and an explanation when stopping citizens. If citizens are not arrested or given a ticket, a business card with identifying information will be given.
The law only applies to the City of Newburgh Police.
“Believe me I know what it’s like to be scared of the police,” said Mejia Jr. “I know what it’s like to be scared when your family members might not come home. We might not go through the same exact things, but we all know that pain. I’m here with solidarity with everyone, with all of you.”
“They [the city council] need to vote and pass this,” said Mejia Jr. “Because I’m tired of the police stopping people over, threatening them and then getting away with it because we don’t know their names, we don’t know their badge numbers.”
During the public comment, most attendees appeared to speak in support of the local law.
Isaiah Valentine, community organizer, questioned how the council and city manager plan on working with community leaders to address the Governor’s recent executive order addressing police reform.
Valentine said that the council will be held accountable to the community’s concerns. He also demanded a public safety design to address issues like domestic violence, mental health, and homelessness. Valentine made other demands like a task force between outside law enforcement and the city to address community concerns.
“Mr. City Manager, Mr. Mayor,” said Valentine, “the harassment needs to stop.”
James Eccleston spoke against the mandated police identification.
“I feel that’s going to put the officer more at risk than anything else,” said Eccleston. “I feel we should get with the community leaders, have them help us or help the city police officers stop the crime.”
Although, the council passed the local law. It will take some time to implement. The city has collective bargaining issues to address. Wages, and disciplinary issues are some of the collective bargaining issues. It may take at least three months to implement the law.
“I think it’s a good start,” said Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde. “It’s the start of the police reforms that are going to be happening in the next several months.”
The council also added a full time deputy police chief position to the police department.
The council also decided to hire Robert Mclymore for professional consulting services to the police department in the area of police department review, reform and community relations.
“Mr. Rob Mclymore obviously has many years in law enforcement,” said Mayor Torrance Harvey. “He also has agreed to getting more involved with his community, where he was born and raised, here in the City of Newburgh.”
“So that we can have some oversight and some real structure to our police community relations board,” said Harvey. “Again to make some reforms in reimagining how our police department should look and how it should function, how it should be structured.”