The Kingston Common Council unanimously voted March 2 to accept the Re-envision Public Safety Task Force’s police reform proposal.
Alderman Tony Davis, who was the councilman liaison, said the council is still holding conversations on what might be adopted in the report.
“This was a lot of work, but it should be understood we’re only voting tonight to accept this report,” said Alderman Steven Schabot. “It doesn’t mean we agree or disagree or anything else. This is a plan we’re looking at moving forward.”
The final report covers four key areas: Use of Force & Accountability, Police Recruitment, Training & Morale, Community Policing, and Alternatives to Police Intervention.
Highlights of the recommendations include transparency in data reporting that would be readily accessible to the public on the police commission website, adopting a disciplinary philosophy for the Kingston Police Department to rebuild trust between officers and leadership, involving a team of mental health and addiction treatment professionals to be called in by 911 in mental health or addiction related incidents, implementing training to assist in situations involving neurodivergent community members (including those with autism or ADHD), annual implicit bias training, and creating a community ambassador program to provide a “visible, street-smart safety presence in targeted neighborhoods.”
“We’re at the beginning here,” said Alderman Rennie Scott-Childress. “I look forward to working with everybody in the community across the entire spectrum of folks who have different ideas and approaches to policing. We need to be in this together and listen to each other and find a way forward together.”
Alderwoman Rita Worthington said the council is taking the process “very seriously” and reading the recommendations in depth. Worthington said it is the council’s goal to “bridge the gap” between residents and the police department.
“The City of Kingston Police Department is above the curve on all of this,” said Alderman Patrick O’Reilly. “They’ve gone through restorative justice training, endless meetings … anything we’ve asked of them they’ve pretty much done and I have to say kudos to them. I don’t think there is any police department in the entire state that is more willing to work on communication between residents and the police force.”
A plan must be adopted by the April 1 deadline.