Working with Malone on revised police plan
A joint statement from Citizen Advocates and St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers in response to the village of Malone police reform process:
As North Country health care providers, we are committed to the public safety of the entire community and to making lives better through the delivery of high-quality care. In this pursuit we are not competitors; we are collaborators. Central to this shared mission is advocating for those in the community who are oppressed or marginalized.
More so, as health care providers, we have a responsibility to not only acknowledge but eradicate the existing disparities in the North Country related to all forms of racism, discrimination, income inequality, mental illness, addiction and housing insecurity. Each of these factors, either individually or collectively, has a very real impact on the health outcomes for those who entrust us with their care.
Citizen Advocates and St. Joseph’s are grateful to have been included in the revision process for the village of Malone’s police reform plan.
Following were the recommendations and action items our organizations shared with the village:
¯ Include language in the report recognizing that forms of systemic racism and institutional discrimination exist in the Malone community, and that the community is committed to addressing these significant influences.
¯ Create stronger outreach attempts to obtain feedback from marginalized populations, including but not limited to people of color, Native Americans and those living near or below the federal poverty level.
¯ Inclusion of specific feedback received from the community on March 21 and 26 during public forums on police reform efforts.
¯ Comparison of village racial and ethnic demographics to arrest by racial and ethnic demographics, to determine whether bias can be tracked.
¯ Inclusion of people of color, Native Americans and people living near or below the federal poverty level as marginalized groups, in addition to those struggling with housing insecurity, mental health, addiction and disabilities.
¯ The establishment of a diverse and inclusive community-represented accountability committee to review “citizen complaints” and participate in “after action reviews.”
¯ Secure a qualified facilitator to annually conduct training for public officials and members of the Malone village police in concepts related to cultural competence encompassing diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as training on the recognition and reduction of systemic racism and institutional discrimination.
¯ Engagement and outreach to other communities with successful police reform concepts (for example: CAHOOTS program, Eugene, Oregon; Angel Program, Gloucester, Massachusetts; REACH Program, Orange County, California).
¯ Explore and create partnerships with community groups, specifically including Citizen Advocates and St. Joseph’s. Citizen Advocates and St. Joseph’s are committed to providing resources, such as training and staff to assist the Malone village police in on-call and in-person situations which require intervention. This will lead to more successful outcomes for Malone-area residents requiring assistance.
¯ Create and make available to the public performance metrics to track local policing statistics and to inform targeted interventions on areas noted for improvement.
We stand firm in our commitment to collaborate with local and regional entities to provide the training and resources needed for addressing social and health inequalities in our community.
James Button is CEO of Citizen Advocates, based in Malone, and Bob Ross is CEO of St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers, based in Saranac Lake. Both agencies serve the region in multiple communties.