Westchester probation department tapped to lead state training initiative

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WHITE PLAINS – The Westchester County Department of Probation has been selected as the lead agency in the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) Police Equity Academy. The County’s Probation Department is one of the first departments in New York State to be selected for the Academy, which will provide targeted training, strategies, and action plans to improve outcomes and reduce disparity for youth involved in the justice system.

Through a partnership between DCJS, the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, and the Youth Justice Institute at the University of Albany, staff at Westchester County’s Probation Department will receive funding to help implement programs that will ensure fairness for Westchester’s young people in the criminal justice system.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “I applaud the proactive measures our Department of Probation has taken to become one of the first County’s statewide to participate in the Police Equity Academy. Through their leadership and willingness to engage in this important work, we will be able to effect change and ensure a better outcome for youth to succeed later in life.”

Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Probation Rocco Pozzi said: “It’s an honor for the Department to have been chosen to lead this important initiative. It has always been the Department’s goal to divert as many juveniles from formal involvement in the justice system. This initiative will go a long way in helping us to achieve this objective. Together with our partners, we hope to make a significant difference in the lives of the youth that we will serve.”

The Police Equity Academy will run for 12-18 months, and each County’s team will be composed of eight to ten members, including service providers, youth and/or family members who have had encounters with the justice system, community and civic organizations, law enforcement, the defense community, and the courts. The curriculum includes targeted training, where Probation Department staff will learn about implicit bias, the origins of disparities, and the reasons inequities persist.

The goal of the training is to develop and implement policy, practices, and programs to reduce the number of underprivileged youth whose cases wind up in Family Court. Each County will receive a $50,000 grant to assist with implementing the programs.

The Westchester County Probation Department will partner with the following agencies and departments in the Police Equity Academy:

  • Westchester County Attorney’s Office
  • Westchester County Department of Social Services
  • Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health
  • Westchester County Youth Bureau
  • Westchester Bravehearts
  • NYS Unified Court System
  • The Yonkers and Mount Pleasant Police Departments
  • Law Guardian/Attorney for the Child, Robin Carton
  • JCCA Residential Juvenile Treatment Facility
  • The Children’s Village

Probation Departments in Albany, Monroe, Onondaga, and Schenectady have also been selected to participate in the Program.