Lockport’s Mayor Roman Gives Multi-Faceted Plan at First Police Reform Panel, Talks Policies on Diversity and Harassment

In accordance with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s June 12th mandate that New York State municipalities hold police reform panels, Mayor Michelle Roman and the Common Council organized such an event Tuesday evening at Rogers Avenue Park.

The Mayor opened by explaining the processes already in place to give the public access to police oversight, as the Lockport Charter allows for a Citizen Police Board.  She noted, “There are a lot of communities that don’t have community oversight of their police departments, but Lockport has had this since its inception.”

Additionally, Mayor Roman remarked on the City’s Human Relations Committee, a committee she reestablished after a 20 year absence, “They’re charged with doing community education on race relations, diversity, and they are also the entity for the city that takes in complaints when people feel they have been treated in a prejudicial way.”

(Mayor Roman talks with the modestly sized group of attendees.)

Furthermore, Roman has actively pushed for more oversight on Lockport’s Police Department in the form of national accreditation.  She remarked, “Starting last year, under the Interim Chief Steve Preisch, I had asked him if we could get our accreditation back.  The City of Lockport police entities can get accredited. This forms a national standard that they have to follow, and have their policies reviewed on a regular basis.”  She added, “The City of Lockport had let that drop for a number of years.  So, we started that process, and current Police Chief Steve Abbott has really taken that up and followed through on it.”

Shifting gears, Roman discussed having transparent police policies, stating, “We are developing a police policy databank, where all of the officers, and eventually the public can say: What’s the policy on this? — And you can look it up.  Then it keeps track of how many officers reviewed that policy, and they have to sign-off that they’ve reviewed that policy.  There are a lot of policies that they have to follow.”

Addressing concerns of Lockport’s Police Department using chokeholds on suspects, Roman explained, “That’s never been allowed.  The Lockport Police Officers are trained to avoid neck and spine.”

Regarding diversity within the Lockport Police Department, Roman said, “The other thing being talked about is that we don’t have diversity in our police department beyond male and female.”  She added, “The committee is looking into how we can open up recruitment from people within the community that represent a more diverse population joining the police force.”

Roman also noted that diversity and mental health training has been amped up recently, stating, “So, there’s a whole broad range of training, and that is where we worked in conjunction with the union so it’s not so expensive to pay for the training and overtime.”

Lastly, during Mayor Roman’s opening presentation to those attending, she touched upon having a resource for sexual harassment claims.  She explained,  “We are going to have a policy, kind of like sexual harassment and harassment, where you have a sexual harassment officer in the city where people have a complaint, they can turn that in and then it will be investigated.”

Police Community Aid Mark Sanders was also in attendance, first addressing diversity within the police officer recruitment process. He explained, “First on the issue of recruitment. One of things I’m assisting the department with is actually the recruitment effort. COVID-19 has put some serious hinderances on recruitment, but we have sent information to all of our neighboring universities and schools.” Sanders added, “We have reached out to Veterans One Stop for veterans that might be coming back and retiring.”

(Police Community Aid Officer Mark Sanders has over 20 years experience in law enforcement. A strong and trusted voice in the City of Lockport.)

Changing course, Sanders discussed interpersonal community relations, stating, “Another thing I’m doing is I’m talking to people one-on-one. I tell anybody, if you know someone, your nephew, family member or friend then let’s talk.”

Adding further insight, Sanders noted, “Right now, law enforcement is becoming a competitive industry. When the Mayor brought up the issue of diversity. If you are a qualified minority candidate, more than one department wants you.”

2 thoughts on “Lockport’s Mayor Roman Gives Multi-Faceted Plan at First Police Reform Panel, Talks Policies on Diversity and Harassment

  1. There needs to be more public notice about upcoming meetings… post a schedule somewhere for those of us who don’t get a newspaper?

    1. We are trying to put something together for a running schedule, but existing newspapers actually get paid to by local governments to post scheduled public meeting dates (as required by law). We already publicize in our articles many important public meeting dates for free. We do our best with what we have. Hopefully, as operations expand, our content will grow. Thank you for reading. (Perhaps recommend at your next local board meeting the local government should consider working with this platform as well. I know we would be thankful.)

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