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As town’s police commissioner, Town Board may seek out its own training programs

The Southold Town Board is contemplating potential police commissioner training programs after a presentation from the town Justice Review and Reform Task Force two weeks ago. 

The task force made a series of recommendations to foster more equitable court proceedings after completing a report examining criminal and civil proceedings post-arrest in town. Among many other suggestions, the committee advised the town to require all court personnel to complete annual anti-bias training. 

The Town Board, as acting police commissioners, wants to expand its historical focus on police finances to encompass operations as well, Supervisor Scott Russell told a reporter. “As we’re going to do that, we have to learn about what does it mean to be a commissioner? The first thing that we have to do is get training in what are called the four pillars of justice.”

As commissioners, the board should be willing to meet the same training requirements it intends to require for police, he said, adding that as commissioners, they may be unaware of underlying legal obligations. “It was just something I asked the town attorney to look at so we can see, you know, are there things that the commissioners need to be aware of? Do they need to avoid certain decision making? Is there other decision making that we really need to weigh more heavily on? That type of thing,” Mr. Russell said. 

He noted there is civilian training offered by the Suffolk County Police Department that might help the board gain a better understanding of how to implement policies recommended by the reform task force. 

“You can’t ask a department to adopt a policy or to implement a change unless we have a good understanding ourselves about that particular issue,” he said.

Mr. Russell emphasized that the training is not intended for the Town Board to get involved in the day-to-day operations of the department.

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