KINGSTON, NY – Engaging the community in the public safety process without diminishing the role of law enforcement is one of the priorities of a strategic action plan created for Kingston.
“By way of overview, let me say that this to plan, our intent for this plan is primarily to help us distinguish between law enforcement and public safety,” Lester Strong told the Common Council Laws and Rules Committee on Wednesday. “They are related but they have separate roles.” He said law enforcement officers have a set of rules and regulations that they are expected to follow, while public safety is about ensuring the entire community feels both seen and safe.
Strong, the executive director of the Peaceful Guardians Project, said Kingston’s five-year public safety strategic action plan sets out six initiatives. He said, however, that there were four areas the city should focus on in the first year of implementation. This includes community engagement, youth development, healthy relationships and mental health, Strong said.
The strategic action plan outlines initiatives the city can take in response to the recommendations included in the report created by Kingston’s Re-Envision Public Safety Task Force. The task force was tasked with examining policing issues in the city based on a mandate from the governor at the time. Andrew Cuomo.
“Kingston’s Public Safety Strategic Action Plan provides a five-year strategy that aims to increase safety and heal trauma by examining its root causes and addressing issues from a public health and justice perspective. racial,” the plan preview reads. “Kingston residents are shaping and will continue to shape safety strategies with the support of local nonprofits and other public and private partners, including law enforcement at all levels. This plan details the many ways that leaders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors can catalyze alternative public safety models and support their development and implementation, including helping to establish a new narrative about what is is needed to keep our communities safe by relying on evidence-based, public health interventions.
The priorities of the strategic action plan include a community engagement campaign that aims to imbue the community with the firm belief that public safety is the responsibility of every citizen. The “I Get It” campaign offers a multi-pronged approach designed to engage all members of the community and create a place where every citizen can connect to accurate information and ways to contribute, according to plan. Part of the campaign would include ongoing focused conversations and planning sessions with law enforcement and community stakeholders.
The Plan’s Youth Intervention Initiative aims to “help Kingston’s youth and young adults dream big by first helping them learn to dream, then providing them with the tools (perseverance, patience and fun) necessary to realize these dreams”, the States plan. The strategy would focus on mentorship in coordination with local youth-serving organizations.
Strong, who acted as project coordinator for the creation of the plan, said the document attempted to provide a way to create a fluid, continuous and dynamic relationship between law enforcement, government and the community. . He said the other element of the plan emphasizes accountability and measuring the results of actions taken.
“At the heart of what we do as a city and as a council, it’s really important that our citizens really see and have confidence in what we do,” Strong said.
Aldermen took no action on the plan, but Strong said council should consider hiring an outside consultant or appointing a city employee to oversee its implementation over the next five years. He said he would be willing to act as a consultant, but he didn’t want to presume.
Mayor Steve Noble said Friday he was not at the committee meeting and had not yet had a chance to speak to aldermen about the next steps in the plan.
The plan recommends that council allocate $200,000 per year for the next five years to implement the public safety initiatives described therein. It also recommends that the city obtain any additional funds necessary to accomplish full implementation of the plan.
“Given this investment, every aspect of the plan must first be approved by both the mayor and the city council,” the document said.