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Town Board hires Lexipol in split vote to provide policy updates, training for police department

In a split vote Tuesday, the Southold Town Board voted to hire Lexipol, a California-based consulting company, to provide policy updates and training to the town police department.

Council members Jim Dinizio, Jill Doherty, Bob Ghosio and Louisa Evans voted in favor of the agreement, which has an initial one-year term and will cost the town $27,203. Supervisor Scott Russell and Councilwoman Sarah Nappa each voted against the measure after a motion to table by Ms. Nappa was rejected 3-3.

Pitching the program to the board in September, Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley said mandated policy updates from the federal and state government put pressure on the small department, which he said is already stretched thin for time and resources. The company is also expected to help the department move closer toward their goal of accreditation.

Ms. Nappa said she wanted to table the action and seek more information from Lexipol on how the firm will work with the town’s Justice Review & Reform Task Force, a citizen-led entity currently working on reviewing law enforcement and justice system policies and making recommendations in response to an executive order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last summer.

“I don’t feel like I got a good clarification on that,” she said. 

Mr. Russell, who was not present at an October presentation by Lexipol to the board, supported the motion to table. “It’s only two weeks,” he said, adding that the task force is “working very hard” and deserves the information.

In addition, Ms. Nappa said she had questions over whether there’s anything that would preclude Lexipol’s policies from being accessible to the public.

Other board members said they didn’t think Lexipol and the ongoing justice review task force were connected.

“One has nothing to do with the other,” Ms. Doherty said, noting that the task force will ultimately make a presentation to the Town Board, who will then decide what policy improvements to move forward with.

“I don’t know how [Lexipol] could possibly tell us how they’re going to integrate something that they have no idea what it is yet,” Mr. Dinizio said.

The task force is facing an April 1 deadline to make their recommendations. They recently held a series of public input meetings and hold regular meetings on Tuesdays via Zoom.

For more information on the task force and to keep up with their progress, visit southoldjusticetf.org.