The “Vistas” column by Carlos Sandoval in the November 19 edition of the paper [“A Clever Path To Police Reform”] correctly described the state-mandated police reform procedure currently being undertaken by the Town of East Hampton as a valuable opportunity for members of the public to participate in the process of reviewing and improving the functions of our community police departments.
This collaborative effort is meant to allow all members of our community to weigh in on how they envision our police can best serve us, and how successful that service is at present. The “Police Reform and Reinvention” process calls for a hard look at areas such as community engagement by our departments, department culture and accountability, and law enforcement strategies to reduce racial disparities and build trust.
A committee of citizens and professionals representing a cross-section of our community will review public comments and assess these areas, and prepare a report to be adopted by our Town Board and submitted to New York State by April, which will contain plans for improvements if needed.
In his column, Mr. Sandoval suggests that in East Hampton we “may very well be … at the progressive edge of policing.” We have found that the East Hampton Town Police Department, led by Chief Michael Sarlo, has, to date, been very successful in community policing and positive engagement as our officers serve the residents of our town.
However, the nationwide focus on issues of social justice, prompted by some unfortunate and troubling examples of misconduct, provides us with a welcome opportunity to engage in assessment and reflection locally. There is always room for improvement.
I thank Mr. Sandoval for addressing this in his column, and the newspaper for publishing his work.
We are making every effort to engage the public in this effort. We have a dedicated email address for writers to submit comments: PoliceReformComments@EHamptonNY.gov. Written comments in English or Spanish, either signed or anonymous, can also be addressed to me and dropped off in the drop box outside of East Hampton Town Hall.
I look forward to taking this opportunity to engage with the community around this important topic. The town will keep all informed about the work of our police reform committee through my reports at Town Board meetings, as well as postings on our town website, EHamptonNY.gov, and on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds.
Peter Van Scoyoc
East Hampton Town
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