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Southold Town Police Department seeks state accreditation

The Southold Town police advisory committee presented a plan for a pathway toward accreditation for the town police department, and the Town Board gave the go-ahead on pursuing it.

The town police department is the only one in the county that hasn’t been accredited through that program. Implemented through the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services the program will add a level of transparency to department operations on matters such as crime statistics, said committee chair John Slattery at Tuesday’s Town Board work session.

The committee brought the idea of seeking accreditation to the Town Board in October and has developed a related mission statement that discusses “nurturing the public trust by holding ourselves accountable to the highest standards,” Mr. Slattery said. The program requires that the department demonstrate compliance with 110 different standards set by the state, he noted.

Four principal goals are outlined on the program’s website: to increase department efficiency, promote cooperation and coordination among law enforcement agencies, ensure appropriate training and promote public confidence in law enforcement agencies.

It’s not a total rewrite of the department’s rules and procedure, Police Chief Martin Flatley said, it just a matter of tweaking them to fit into the standards.

Fishers Island Justice Louisa Evans said she’s hesitant about what the process might cost the town, as the department might already meet certain standards. But she supported the pursuit of improved transparency to the public on department procedures. Councilman Jim Dinizio said it’s important the town ensure that state standards are met and prove that to the community. The estimated annual cost, in a “best-case scenario,” would be about $15,840, Mr. Russell said.

The process is not meant to be seen as a vote of no confidence in the department, but “just a step to do something even better that they’re already doing,” Mr. Ghosio noted. It’s a way to be proactive, not reactive, committee member Kevin Foote added.

It should be welcomed, Ms. Doherty said, and will help the Town Board have dialogue and openness with the department. The chief said he would prepare reports the Town Board asks for. Councilman William Ruland also supported the idea, and said the town should do whatever it takes to make the accreditation mission statement “continually viable.”

The department’s first challenge is finding someone to facilitate the process, the supervisor said. The process would require an assignment change for a sergeant to work on accreditation for at least a year, then will take about a month each year to maintain, Chief Flatley said.

The committee determined the process could begin as soon as September, Mr. Slattery said.

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