Kingston enacts city police accountability legislation, forms re-envision public safety task force

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KINGSTON – Mayor Steven Noble, Wednesday, signed Police Accountability legislation into law. The measure was unanimously passed by the common council on Tuesday night.

The legislation includes transparent guidelines for the appointment process of the police commission; creating training requirements for the commissioners; and improving the commission’s complaint process.

“We have, as a community, come together to create what I think will be meaningful change,” said Noble. “This legislation is a step forward toward transparency and trust, and I look forward to working with the police commission to implement these common-sense changes.” The mayor said Chief Egidio Tinti has been supportive of accountability measures, along with the police department for their willingness to work with their community toward positive change.

Chair of the Common Council’s Special Policing Committee, Alderwoman Rita Worthington said, “While we know this is not the end all to dismantling ingrained systematic racism, it is a first step toward that goal.”

To begin creating a more diverse police commission, Mayor Noble has appointed Minya DeJohnette, an acupuncturist with a master’s degree in health sciences, to the vacant seat on the commission. At the June meeting, the Police Commission voted to release the chief of police from duties as the commission’s secretary, and will appoint a vice chair and secretary from the existing commission members. The mayor serves as the chairman of the commission.

As per the governor’s executive order, Noble, in cooperation with the common council and the community, is in the process of creating the “Re-envision Public Safety Task Force” to further address law enforcement-community relations, use-of-force policies, procedural justice, systemic racial bias, and practices that may contribute to racial disparity in the community, among other issues.

The Re-envision Public Safety Task Force will review and collect new, innovative recommendations and modernizations and provide a concrete plan, which will be presented to the public for comment, and which must be ratified by April 1, 2021.

“Part of making real change is being able to dismantle ideas and concepts that we’ve previously taken for granted,” said the mayor.