Police reform plan, COVID emergency plan approved by Granville

Police reform plan, COVID emergency plan approved by Granville
The newest patrol vehicle for the Granville Police Department.

The Granville Village Board meeting met on March 26 in a special meeting and approved both the Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Plan and the Village COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan.

After conducting two 60-minute public hearing meetings and allowing a public input section in the special meeting, the board accepted and approved the police reform plan to be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

A panel of community leaders – Mayor Paul Labas, police chief Ernest Bassett Jr., Rev. Jerry McKinney, Village Planning Board member and town local code ordinance officer Russ Bronson, Granville Engine & Hose Co. #1 Chief and police Sgt. Ryan Pedone, Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan and Granville Junior/Senior High School assistant principal Daniel Poucher – answered Cuomo’s Executive Order 203 by taking a deep dive into the Granville Police Department in categories such as staffing and training, community involvement, policy development and statistics.

In a statement to Cuomo, Bassett wrote:

”Our submitted plan as stated is in response to Executive Order 203 and noted that this will be submitted as a final working plan that will remain open as a continuous working document that will continue to adapt, improve and change with the times and continued wishes of members of the public for whom the Granville police protect and serve.”

The public hearings, although not well attended with only two community members showing up for the first meeting and none at the second, were informative of the department’s “adapting” to the times and policemen wearing many different hats than just being a stereotypical police officer.

The Granville police officers are heavily involved with the three facilities in the Granville Central School District by offering a DARE instructor and a School Resource Officer.

“Interaction with students and staff on a daily basis also fosters better relations and understanding between the community and the police department,” the plan said.

Additionally, many if not all Granville police officers are EMS cross-trained and involved with volunteer organizations like the Granville Engine & Hose Co. #1 and youth-sports groups.

Bassett and the panel agreed the police department investing in “available cultural diversity training” to both end and prevent systemic racism from occurring will be beneficial, despite less than two percent of the population in 2019 being recorded as a race other than white.

“Our mindset shall remain that we are hired on as public servants, with goals of helping others,” Bassett wrote.

The entire Police Reform and Reinvention Collaboration Plan is available at the village municipal center to be viewed.

The COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan addressed the definition of essential employees in the village, protocols for procurement, storage and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the process of contact tracing.

A committee made up of board member Dan Brown, village attorney Mike Martin, village clerk Rick Roberts, village safety officer T.J. Zovistoski and labor union representative Tom Beebe Jr. established the plan in compliance with the Centers for Disease Control and the New York State Department of Health.

According to the plan, the positions of police officer, fire chief and assistant fire chief, DPW superintendent and assistant superintendent, water and wastewater operators, DPW laborer, clerk-treasurer and deputy clerk-treasurer, village justice and acting village justice, court clerk, local ordinance officer and senior shuttle driver are all deemed essential.

“In the event of an emergency situation, work may be permitted by essential staff on site or off site as possible,” the committee wrote. “Non-essential staff would be asked to stay home in certain emergency circumstances, with pay for a period of time, with the approval of the village board. If the emergency extends for a prolonged period, the Village Board may need to consider furloughs or cause a reduction in staff, but these actions would be carefully considered and a matter of last resort.”

The approved emergency plan is “subject to review and amendment as necessary annually at the Village Board’s Organizational Meeting” and is also available to be viewed at the village municipal center.

Meanwhile, the village board approved the purchase of a 2009 Ford F-350 bucket truck from Upstate Auto Sales Inc. in Hoosick Falls for $16,971.

The new-to-the-village replacement comes with 60,000 miles and is considered a steal and a much-needed upgrade for the village from the current truck.

“It burns more oil than gas,” Labas said of the previous bucket truck.

The village and DPW use the bucket truck very often with projects including decorating the village with Christmas lights and the upcoming banner project honoring servicemen and women.

Roberts suggested the board pull expendable money from the sewer fund to purchase the truck, with board member Stephanie Munger wanting to use the leftovers of the funds from the Christmas decoration project towards the purchase of the vehicle.