Public gets first chance to weigh in on potential Suffolk police reforms

Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart described a proposal to reform the county police as a complete "reinvention of the Suffolk County Police Department." But some members of the public say it doesn't go far enough.
The first of three public hearings on the proposed police reform took place in Suffolk County Thursday night. A 1,000-page report compiled by the Suffolk County Police Reform & Reinvention Task Force was at the center of discussions.
The proposed changes come in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order that all departments must examine ways to reform.
The task force laid out the proposal to the county's Public Safety Committe and the public.
One of the biggest proposed changes would have the department no longer conducting vehicle searches on routine traffic stops based solely on the operator's consent.
Task force member Jon Kaiman says officers can conduct a search, "if there is a legitimate cause that ... there's a gun on the floor of the car. There's something dangerous in the vicinity."
The proposal details several areas, including promoting diversity in recruiting and staffing, continuing education and community policing training.
But some community members say they were "not impressed by this plan," saying, "The problem is not with the community. The problem is in the way that the communities are policed."
Shanequa Levin added, "It's obvious that police are in charge of way too much."
Others, like Florence Rothman, said she wasn't in favor of all of the proposals but, "I was happy to hear many of the things you said tonight."
A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, March 16 at 2 p.m. during the Legislature's general meeting. To speak at that hearing, sign up HERE.
Another opportunity to speak will be on March 18 at the next special meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature's Public Safety Committee. Sign up to speak HERE.