Suffolk residents weigh in on county's police reform plans, urge adoption of 'The People's Plan'
Suffolk residents got their chance Tuesday to weigh in on plans to overhaul the county's police department.
More than a dozen people signed up to speak on the matter during a virtual County Legislature meeting about adopting the Suffolk Sheriff's Office Reform and Reinvention Report and the Suffolk County Police Reform Plan.
As News 12 has reported, some community members submitted their own plan, called "The People's Plan," that they urged Suffolk to adopt, rather than submit the plans from law enforcement.
"According to the task force plan, at the end of the day, the police will still be policing themselves. No citizens review board, no inspector general, no public safety committee oversight - unlike the People's Plan, that calls for all three," says Lynn Kaufmann, of LI United to Transform Policing & Community Safety.
The hearing was supposed to be just members of the public talking, but there was a combative back-and-forth between some legislators who wanted to be able to ask questions and have debate. But the lawyer for the Suffolk Legislature said the laws of the meeting didn't allow for that and the meeting went back to hearing from the public.
One woman gave an emotional account about an encounter with Suffolk police.
"I was assaulted, and I watched probably about six to seven other people in that park be assaulted by the First, Fourth and Third Precinct officers that ran into that park that night. The police officer that assaulted me, punched me in the side of my head and then tackled me to the ground twice," says Latoya Bazmore. "I want to know how this Legislature is going to make things right for the people? The people who are at the bottom who are being harassed?"
A few people in the hearing spoke Spanish and through an interpreter urged lawmakers to adopt The People's Plan, which they say would lead to more fair treatment of everyone.
The next public virtual hearing on the plans is Thursday at 6 p.m. Final police reform plans are due to be submitted to the state by April 1.