This is a moment when law enforcement agencies across the nation have an opportunity and an obligation to take a hard look at racial disparities in criminal justice and consider meaningful reforms. Here in New Rochelle, we begin with a strong foundation — a PD that has long prioritized community relations and that has already taken several of the steps recommended by reformers. But even a good department can improve.
In this spirit, last night, the City Council, with Council Member Yadira Ramos-Herbert taking the lead, initiated a comprehensive review of past and current NRPD practices, including use of force policies and training protocols, while also asking our professional staff to analyze potential future steps, such as body cams, independent oversight, and enhanced community engagement. We aim to move quickly, with a report due in July that will facilitate further discussion and decision-making.
In the meantime, I have signed on to this pledge from the Obama Foundation, committing to the review and reform process described above. Important work ahead for all of us.
The City will continue to cooperate fully with County and State officials to ensure a thorough, open, and transparent investigation and to establish the facts with confidence. But our challenge extends further. This tragic event, which would be traumatic and painful under any circumstances and no matter what the chain of events leading to the discharge of a weapon, comes at a moment of intense local and national focus on issues of police violence and systemic racism. All of us are called to work together, alongside community leaders and advocates, to pursue the broader cause of racial justice and peace in New Rochelle. That work has already begun and now it will be pursued with even greater urgency.
I am grateful that Governor Andrew Cuomo chose to deliver his daily briefing this morning from the campus of Iona College in New Rochelle. His presence, coinciding with the Phase I reopening of the Mid-Hudson region, highlights our community’s great progress since the local outbreak of coronavirus in early March. #NewRoStrong
Fun Fact: This is not the first time that a Cuomo has made a high-profile visit to Iona. Governor Mario Cuomo delivered the Iona commencement address in 1984, a speech he later described as his favorite.
Because New Rochelle was one of the first communities in American to confront COVID-19, our Phase I opening this week has once again thrust our city into the media spotlight. In my comments to the press, I have expressed confident optimism about New Rochelle’s progress, while also acknowledging clearly that the crisis is not over and that we must continue to act responsibly. Following is a sampling of recent coverage.
Today, the Mid-Hudson region of New York, including New Rochelle, begins Phase I reopening. Permitted activities include construction and manufacturing, as well as retail for curbside and in-store pickup. All places of businesses must have safety plans. The entire reopening process will unfold over four phases, with a gradual lifting of restrictions. Here’s more information.
Having faced COVID-19 ahead of almost everyone in the nation, our community can take special satisfaction in reaching this milestone and can be confident in our capacity to make further progress toward a full reopening. Indeed, New Rochelle is already making plans to accelerate our recovery.
But it is premature to let down our guard. The virus is still present in our city and region. All of us must continue to act responsibly, practice physical distancing, use face coverings, and follow other guidelines intended to safeguard our health, both at home and at work.
Let’s continue to demonstrate strength, wisdom, and patience until this crisis is fully behind us.
For detailed information about when and how our community can begin to reopen, please visit forward.ny.gov to find specific data about the State’s requirements and phases. New Rochelle is part of the mid-Hudson region, which so far has met 5 of the 7 opening benchmarks, and is making progress on the last 2, so there is reason to be hopeful that the opening process will commence soon. Keep in mind, however, that restrictions will be relaxed on a phased, gradual basis, not all at once. The City will provide updates every step of the way.