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Police presence survey available

FULTONVILLE — State and local law enforcement agencies in Montgomery County are conducting a survey to get community input and feedback on the police presence and areas they can improve.

Since Gov. Andrew Coumo has required law enforcement to participate in Police Reform and Reinvention Collaboration before April 1, state police, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Amsterdam Police Department, Canajoharie Police Department, Fort Plain Police Department and the St. Johnsville Police Department have been working together to come up with a Police Reform plan to improve their services to the community.

In Montgomery County, all of the Law Enforcement Agencies conducted a meeting together and have started the process, and are conducting a survey seeking the community’s feedback. Those who would like to complete the survey have until Nov. 1.

To complete the survey the link is: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/mclawenforcement.

“Please encourage people to provide feedback,” said Montgomery County Sheriff Jeff Smith. “The survey is private. Feel free to be honest even if it’s bad news, we want to hear it, and we want to hear good news too.”

Smith said they have also met with the Montgomery County Mental Health Department, local officials and other local representatives in the county to have an open discussion, to do training.

So far, local agencies in the county have completed many things working towards improvements like, a stakeholder meeting, updated trainings, participation in group discussions and office evaluations/policy review.

Smith said they have done discrimination training, use of force training and more.

One issue they face in developing a Police Reform plan, is that policies differ between agencies. The city police departments work differently from the villages, Smith said. He said the sheriff’s department uses body cameras and are credited. They follow state regulations, so they’re policies can’t change.

The next steps would be to look over the surveys, and to possibly meet with community members to have an open discussion with them as well.

However, due to COVID-19, meeting with community members would possibly be virtually. The issue with that though, Smith said, is not everyone has the technology to participate in a possible virtual meeting.

Smith said the sheriff’s office and local law enforcement agencies in the county work “in a partnership, we work together, very closely and we share staff, ideas and equipment.”

Smith said, although, even if they do have a good relationship with the community, there is always room to improve, which is why they would like to get as much feedback — good or bad — as possible from the survey.

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