Robert McLymore’s entire childhood was spent in the City of Newburgh. In the later half of his childhood, he realized that he wanted to be a police officer.
At NFA, McLymore was introduced to a criminal justice course. While taking the class, he realized he wanted to become a police officer.
McLymore doesn’t have the most conventional background for a member of law enforcement. In 2017, he took over his father’s church, the Life Restoration Church in the City of Newburgh.
McLymore has been a police officer in the Town of Wallkill since 2001. He is a lieutenant. He was also Wallkill’s first African American detective and sergeant.
Still, the city has been his and his family’s home for his whole life.
On August 1, McLymore will start his new endeavor as the city’s senior advisor to the police department.
“I think with the City of Newburgh, I think there is something,” said McLymore. “There is a resolution. We just have to tap into that resolution as far as bringing a reconciled relationship between the police officers and the community. The one thing I can say is that we have to have communication between both of the parties.”
McLymore believes a dialogue needs to be the first step to improve community police relations.
“A dialogue needs to be had in order for us to restore or come up with a better solution, more solutions for a better future,” said McLymore.
McLymore believes there is a strain between communities and the police in every jurisdiction.
“That relationship has to be repaired,” said McLymore “If it’s not repaired, it’s going to be devastating to every community.”
When it comes to combining his role as a pastor and being a police officer, McLymore believes the truth is the common denominator.
“When you’re in law enforcement, you enforce the law,” said McLymore. “Which is standing on the truth. You try to get to the truth of why people did what they did.”
“As far as biblically speaking or spiritually speaking, you’re preaching the truth, the word of God,” said McLymore. “So, you’re enforcing biblical truths. How do you coincide each other or combine it, is that you’re speaking truth on both sides.”
McLymore said that biblical commandments like “thou shall not steal” are not that different from the law.
“It’s not hard to do so [enforce the truth],” said McLymore. “It’s just a matter of how you do it, how you present yourself.”
McLymore said that he has considered quitting law enforcement to focus on ministry.
“There’s always that drive, that motivation to be in full time ministry,” said McLymore. “But, I thank God that he’s allowed me to follow my dream and fulfill my dream, which was to become a police officer.”
McLymore’s main dream has always been to be a police officer. When he retires from being a police officer, he plans to go into full time ministry.
When it comes to specific community matters, McLymore understands the tension around the joint law enforcement efforts. He understands that many members of the community are against the efforts.
“They feel that there’s a lot of harassment going on,” said McLymore. “As far as from the policing aspect, I have to get in there and see exactly what’s going on and how we can resolve this issue. Because if they’re doing the right things, then it’s okay. If they’re doing the wrong thing, then there needs to be a resolution and it needs to be corrected.”
McLymore believes eventually joint law enforcement efforts won’t be necessary. He believes there needs to be transparency between law enforcement and the community.
“If that transparency is given to the community, then maybe the community will understand the reasons behind the joint effort.”
McLymore aims to have an immediate dialogue between the community and police.
“Maybe the police don’t understand why the community is feeling the way they feel,” said McLymore. “The community don’t understand why the police are feeling the way they feel. I think if we can have that dialogue, then that will be the right step in the right direction.”
McLymore doesn’t believe defunding the police is the solution.
“I don’t like the aspect of defunding the police, if we’re trying to get certain things done with the police,” said McLymore. “There must be other ways that they can express themselves [the police] as far as budgets and different things like that. For instance, watch their overtime.”
“To defund them completely in certain areas, how are they going to get sensitivity training?” asked McLymore. “How are they going to get implicit bias training? How are we going to get more personnel to protect the community?”
The City of Newburgh has a persistent concern over understaffing.
“I believe that’s one of the things that we can work on is finding funding to get more police officers, qualified police officers, into the City of Newburgh,” said McLymore. “Which will eliminate overtime, which will eliminate a lot of the things you see going on.”
McLymore hopes to achieve implicit bias training and other training to help foster a better relationship with the community.
“If we defund that [the police], then those programs can’t be in place, can’t be implemented,” said McLymore.
“So we have to be careful saying we want to defund the police,” said McLymore.
McLymore believes in the next five years, the city can make ground breaking progress as far as seeing the police and the community come together.
“In five years, we should be where the police are able to do their job. The community respects the police, the police respect the community,” said McLymore.
McLymore believes that in five years, both sides should be able to successfully come to the table and transparency will be achieved with police actions.
“If the community can police themselves, then I think it wouldn’t be a hard job for the police to police the community,” said McLymore. “Because the community is taking responsibility, taking accountability for our own actions and for the things that happen in our community.”
McLymore believes in five years the community will be more successful in policing itself.
“If we are responsible for our actions and what happens in our community,” said McLymore, “then we will desire a better community.”
“I think the responsibility can be shared [between the police and the community],” said McLymore.
Still, he believes the police will always be needed.
“The reason I say that is because who’s going to investigate,” said McLymore. “We want to have professionals investigating crimes and solving the crimes as well.”
McLymore said there’s the risk of corruption without the police, but he believes a point will come where the community will be there to successfully aid the police.
As the city’s senior advisor to the police, McLymore will work with residents and community organizations to establish and cultivate relationships between the police department and the general public.
He will organize educational and informational programs to encourage mentoring as well as prevention activities focusing on crime, drugs, violence, gangs, and other public safety concerns. McLymore will serve as key advisor on police reform and will oversee implementation of NYS Executive Order 203 which was established in mid-June to address racial inequities in policing as well as modify and modernize policing strategies, policies, procedures and practices to better address the needs of communities of color. He will serve as a liaison during investigations and direct the City’s Police-Community Relations & Review Board and other targeted and strategic community outreach.