Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler recently recommended that Orange County’s towns and villages consider establishing boards of police commissioners under New York State’s Town Law and Village Law, to the extent that those commissions have not already been established.
Hoovler’s recommendation comes, in part, in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 203, creating the Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative.
The executive order requires that all New York State municipalities that have police departments evaluate their police policies and practices and adopt a plan to improve those policies and practices, to be more responsive to their communities.
Orange County’s three cities, Newburgh, Middletown and Port Jervis, already have the equivalent of police commissions in place.
Hoovler is a former detective with the Prince George’s County, Maryland, Police Department. In addition, he sat on the Town of Deerpark’s Board of Police Commissioners. On that board, he participated in decision-making about the Town Police Department’s budget and its personnel and hiring practices and assisted in the reworking of the Department’s general orders manual.
“A board of police commissioners would be a valuable addition to the government of any municipality that doesn’t already have one,” Hoovler said. “Such a board would provide an important service to any community, allowing for a better flow of information on police matters between the community and police and municipal leadership.
“At a time when police-community relations are under stress in some places, the establishment of a board of police commissioners in any municipality would go a long way toward keeping open the lines of communication between police and citizens and contributing to trust, respect, and transparency,” the district attorney added. Such a board could be a critical element in the effort to meet public safety needs in an atmosphere of mutual respect.”