DO YOU KNOW WHAT EXECUTIVE ORDER 203 IS?

In response to growing social unrest occurring across the country, on June 12, 2020 Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order 203 requiring each local government in N.Y. state to adopt a splicing reform plan that will maintain public safety while building mutual trust and respect between police and the communities they serve.  

On August 17, 2020 Governor Cuomo provided additional guidance for the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, which was established by the Govenors’ Executive Order.  This guidance provided a framework and topics for consideration by local police departments, elected officials and citizens as they develop their local plans for reform.  Per the Governor’s Executive Order, every locality must adopt a plan for reform by April, 2021to be eligible for future state funding.  

Mad, frustrated? Want to do something? Don’t know where to start?

Start with knowing your..

County Executive: Manages and supervises the county’s departments and agencies and all county services, programs, and projects. They play a lead role in establishing the efficiency and effectiveness of county government.

Mayor or Town Supervisor: Elected by residents. They appoint city officials (such as Chief of Police), presides over city council meetings, oversees city departments, and signs legal documents.

YOU SHOULD ALSO KNOW…

Your council members or town board members. They introduce and vote on legislation (proposed laws) having to do with all aspects of City/Town life. Negotiate the budget with the Mayor/Town Supervisor and approve it’s adoption. Monitor agencies such as the Department of Education, health services  and the police to make sure they’re effectively serving the community. Often times the council members or board members will be assigned a ward, which varies from municipality to municipality.

NEXT YOU SHOULD…

Google search your city or town’s website. On that page you will find free local resources. Search for a board or council. There should be an agenda, calendar, or news update of some sort which informs the city or town local government meetings. You are allowed to attend these meetings and if there is not an option for you to attend, reach out via email (proof of contact) or phone call to your town or city hall (you can find that contact information on the city or town website)

NOW YOUR READY TO…

Attend a meeting. They are typically on a week night and can run anywhere from 1 hour to 6. You do not have to stay for the whole meeting, you can leave at any time. Many recent board or council meetings have been held virtually, making it more convenient than ever to attend these meetings.

Before attending: Find one or two things that really concern you about your community. Take some time to reflect on how long you lived in your community, what it means to you, what you love about it and what you think needs to be improved.

Time for action!

Attend at least two meetings and take notes. Get to know the feel of the atmosphere. Write down names of supervisors, stakeholders (people who have money invested in the community i.e. homeowners therefore have more reason to state their position on policies) or anyone you may deem as important either now or later on. Typically, there is a public participation opportunity at these meetings and this is a great start on letting your voice be heard in your communities, citing grievances, and letting your elected officials know you are paying attention.

Action continued…

This is very important! After all, this is a time where you have your Mayor’s attention along with top deciding elected officials who have authority and power over your local legislation, policies, and laws! 

There are small steps you can take in order to incite action followed by work and finally change! 

Important and Helpful Definitions

Municipality: a city or town that has corporate status and local government. 

Ward: is an optional division of a city or town for administrative and representative purposes, especially for purposes of an election.

Quorum: the minimum number of members of an assembly or society that must be present at any of its meetings to make the proceedings of that meeting valid.

Charter: a written grant by a country’s legislative or sovereign power, by which a body such as company, college, or city is founded and its rights and privileges defined.

Jurisdiction: the official power to make legal decisions and judgements

Policy: A policy is a deliberate system of principles to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. A policy is a statement of intent, and is implemented as a procedure or protocol. Policies are generally adopted by a governance body within an organization. Policy differs from rules or law.

Policy means NOTHING unless its law.

Protocol: the official procedure or system of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic (political) occasions.

Stakeholder: one who is involved in or affected by a course of action. Some examples of key stakeholders are creditors, directors, employees, government (and its agencies), owners (shareholders), suppliers, unions, and the community from which the business draws its resources. 

Executive Order 203 is a game changer!

This is history! None of us will see this type of police reform in our lifetime. Following the death of George Floyd, the entire nation along with many parts of the world marched in outrage and demanded justice. Although many of the cases of the names we shouted have still been met with injustice, we continued to scream and shout and made sure to shine the light on the injustice in America. This executive order is the action we need! We need to be at the table structuring what policing looks like! That starts now by taking action! To do that you have to be involved!

Want to get involved? Don’t know where to start?

We spoke about attending town board or city council meetings. Not your cup of tea? No worries! There are other ways to get involved. One option is to Find an organization in your respective community and get in touch with them. Most respond to DMs or personal messages within hours if not a day. If you need to get in touch with a specific person, ask around. Make sure you introduce yourself and let the person know the reason for your inquiry! It can be as simple as saying I am a resident and am looking to get more involved. Most of us are happy to help!

It’s easy! We promise!

You will be surprised how easy it is to get involved. In relation to EO 203, many cities and towns don’t have ANYONE speaking up or out for marginalized people! That makes things much easier for police departments to make decisions with public input and therefore directly endangering the community. At the very least, it creates an environment where the community’s voices are not heard and their best interests are not taken into consideration. Many policies are made with protection of finances in the forefront, so in order for NYS Police Departments not to lose funding, they will do what they can to give the impression like they are reforming, but what they are doing is rePHRASING already existing and frankly oppressive policies. Without the public paying attention, they have even more power to ignore anyone’s needs or wants. We want change and we DESERVE IT! If you can’t find the action, BE the action because now you know how to!

Who Writes Policy Policy?

Did you know that every police department must have a policy handbook? Most if not all companies and large bodies of service must have a handbook in order to store protocol to direct the body in a variety of possible scenarios and situations  (i.e. what a specific business must do in the event of a fire). Since the police regulate community safety and serve and protect the public, their handbook should be written with guidelines on how to properly assess community situations to ensure their safety. Great. Right?

What if I told you neither the government, nor the head of police, nor any members of the community write these handbooks?

Here’s what you didn’t know. Many police departments all over the nation have outsourced their policy handbooks to a private for profit company called Lexipol. Lexipol was founded by two ex cops (ex due to misconduct) turned lawyers who have made a business out of writing policy guidebooks for law enforcement, fire rescue, and correctional facilities (jails and prisons). That’s right. Your community policy is being written by someone whose never been to your town or city! Your community policies are being outsourced like your phone companies outsource their customer service representatives. So to save money, many of the municipalities in New York State pay Lexipol to write their policies. That means Lexipol will most likely be writing the revision and reformation for Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 203!

If only there was a way to write up our own legislation and provisions to submit to our local boards and council. Oh wait, there is! Contact your local organizations today and spark up a discussion about this subject. Although we are short on time for this particular reformation (all policies must be proposed, revised, and voted on in April 2021) this kind of information will come in handy now and in the future. Don’t stress too much about not knowing how to fix this exact problem. Reach out to your community leaders today and see where you can fit in. We always need help with our work and would love to hear from you! If you are interested in getting more informed and/or involved in what’s going on in you community please reach out!