Public asked to respond on LPD operations, needs for improvement; survey to remain active to Feb. 24
By Terry Duffy
The Lewiston Police Department issued its anticipated community survey this week, seeking input on its service operations, police practices and any needs for improvement.
Found on LPD’s new phone app, as well as online, the LPD survey is the department’s response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state mandates issued in June 2020 calling on police reform measures. It was developed in response to the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the resulting national protests.
Cuomo’s executive order – the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative – requires all New York police agencies, including the LPD, to “develop a plan that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs in their community based on community input.” Those that don’t formulate a plan risk losing state funding.
Over past weeks, LPD, working with the Town of Lewiston, established a community panel headed by Supervisor Steve Broderick, a retired lieutenant with the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office. Other members include Councilman John Jacoby, town attorney Alfonso Marra Bax, Lewiston Police Chief Frank Previte, Lewiston-Porter Superintendent of Schools Paul Casseri, Niagara Wheatfield Superintendent of Schools Daniel Ljiljanich, Village of Lewiston Mayor Anne Welch and Deputy Mayor Vic Eydt, Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Pauly and James Bissell, representing the Tuscarora Nation.
Following lead-off meetings with Previte, the committee worked on developing a series of questions intended to gauge community sentiment and provide responses. The survey opens with the following premise:
“NYS Governor Cuomo Executive Order 203 requires each law enforcement agency in New York state to create a reform reinvention plan in a collaborative manner with the community. The plans need to be approved by the Lewiston Town Board and submitted to NYS by April 1, 2021. NYS is referring to this process as the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative.
“According to NYS Governor Cuomo’s office, ‘The purpose of the New York State Police reform and reinvention Collaborative is to foster trust, fairness and legitimacy within communities throughout our State and to address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color.’
“The Police Reform Committee is tasked with reaching out to the community to greater input on policing. As part of the community outreach efforts, a community survey has been created. Your participation in the survey will assist in shaping the plan.
“Please complete the survey by noon, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2021. The link is available here: https://forms.gle/yhHwhYAJSewvxKVMA.”
Clicking on the link, the survey opens, “Thank you for taking time to complete this ten question survey. Your participation will help the Lewiston Police Department (to) better serve the needs of the communities we represent.”
On the survey, the user finds a simple series of questions, with information sought on the responder’s residency or employment in the LPD service area, as well as their age and sex.
It then queries the responder on their views on the LPD itself and specifically, the “areas in need of improvement” for Lewiston police. Presented in a scale rating format (from 1-5 and N/A) it asks the responder’s feelings of their personal safety at “Artpark Events” and “Lewiston Events.”
It follows, again on a 1-5 scale, with the question, “How confident are you that issues are properly handled by the Lewiston Police Department?”
Question No. 8 expands on this, with community input sought on the responder’s views of the LPD with respect to the following: community policing; reducing racial disparities; building trust; community engagement; leadership and culture; police conduct/use of force; accountability of misconduct; citizen oversight; data, technology and transparency; recruiting a diverse workforce; training for the police department; and police officer wellness.
It closes with a question on “your overall satisfaction with the Lewiston Police Department and concludes with “How can the Lewiston Police Department help make your neighborhoods safer?”
Previte said he was pleased with the survey and appreciates the panel’s assistance in the effort.
“I’m excited to see it. It’s good for us to get feedback,” he said.
The chief credited Pauly with the survey’s creation, noting how she assisted LPD in the development of topical data and worked to create a user-friendly survey for the community.
“I’m happy to see it up and running; I look forward to seeing the results,” Previte said.
The River Region community is asked to review and complete the survey by Wednesday, Feb. 24. Previte said the community panel is expected to meet Thursday, Feb. 25, to determine its next steps.
“From there will be discussions with the panel on how we will continue” as the state’s reform mandate proceeds,” Previte said.