New Rochelle Police Review Committee Recommendations are Dead on Arrival

PRC members see themselves as a permanent standing committee to act as an “all-civilian structure with discipline power” over the New Rochelle Police Department

New Rochelle Police Review Committee Recommendations are Dead on Arrival

NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- A report containing a set of recommendations by a “police review” committee limped into the City Council chambers tonight and promptly died on the conference table.

The latest version of community members attempts to overhaul the New Rochelle Police Department is the New Rochelle Police Review Committee (“PRC”), a group appointed by City Manager Charles B. Strome on August 11, 2020, under a mandate from New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Most of the recommendations were half-baked, insipid, uninformed, financial, or legally unworkable; in many cases, the ideas were long-ago superseded by facts on the ground. One member stressed that the committee did not support “defunding the police”.

One idea was to investigate allegations of aggressive ticketing practices. Another was the commissioning of a study to “determine whether alternate side of the street parking is in fact required for street cleaning purposes”.  Still, another was to train ex-cons, otherwise known as “formerly incarcerated community members with street credibility”, to mediate disturbances and disputes among juveniles.

Two members of the committee did not make it to the finish line. Timothy McKnight left the committee following his arrest on DWI and weapons charges in September. The New Rochelle Police Benevolent Association was invited to nominate a representative to sit on the committee as Detective Chris Greco had done in 2015 but the PBA was noticeably absent from the final report.

The PRC offered two original ideas that appeared to be well-received or at least were not openly disputed by City Staff.

  1. The creation of a Serious Incident Review Board “comprising sworn staff and community members to review cases involving officer-involved shootings and other serious incidents that have the potential to damage community trust or confidence in the agency.”
  2. Update the New Rochelle Police Department website to (1) allow public access to monthly reports that detail “racial, ethnic, gender and location data related to all police stops, crime data, complaint data, vehicle and traffic law and daily activity logs”; (2) enable the public to file complaints against NRPD officers through an on-line fill-in form and track the progress of that complaint until disposition of the matter; (3) hire a data entry clerk to aggregate the information in a manner that allows monthly digital access; (4) present all information on the site available in English and Spanish.

Other than that, from the PRC report, it appears members of the committee were unaware of the history of the New Rochelle Police Department, the long-standing policies and procedures outlined in the 300-plus page Department Handbook, Collective Bargaining laws, and New York State Civil Service law.

The PRC's main goal is to remain as a permanent standing committee to act as civilian oversight for the New Rochelle Police Department — an “all-civilian structure with discipline power” to quote the PRC report. The PRC envisions police training and policies as a “co-production” between the Command Staff, the Training Unit, and the PRC (i.e., members of the public). Various jobs, including 5 new police officers, community liaisons, and Housing Authority Resident Services Officers would be allocated at the direction of the PRC.

When Robin Frankel, a PRC member began to describe a discussion among members of the PRC had about making the PRC a permanent body she was quickly cut off by PRC Facilitator and Council Member Yadira Ramos-Herbert.


The PRC called for modes and emphasis in training that are not only long-standing practices but were described repeatedly in the New Rochelle Police Department — Special Report to the City Council, July 2020. Among them, the PRC recommended, “Implicit Bias Training” which was addressed by Mayor Noam Bramson in his June 6, 2020, press conference following the death of Kamal Flowers in an officer-involved shooting. NRPD officers have already received Implicit Bias Training. A particular focus on the PRC was a program called ABLE, which the NRPD Training Unit had previously evaluated and found redundant to the programs already in place. There was no indication from the PRC report or presentation to City Council that members were familiar with the programs run by the NRPD Training Unit. The PRC portrayed ABLE as a “free” program by neglecting to account for the regular and overtime hours required of NRPD officers under ABLE.

  • The PRC called for the banning of intentional neck and chokeholds. The New Rochelle Police Department has banned intentional neck and chokehold for years.

  • The PRC called for NRPD policies to be regularly reviewed and updated. NRPD policies are regularly reviewed and updated.

  • The PRC called for police to engage in community meetings. NRPD officers regularly engage in community meetings.

  • The PRC wants police officers who make a traffic stop to hand out business cards to suspects with their name, badge number and reasons for the stop along with instructions for filing a complaint. 

  • The PRC proposed to institute a “Cure Violence” program where leaders in the community are trained to change norms, respond to shootings, organize the community, and mediate violence and proactively address areas with high risk. The City Manager Announced the creation of the Clergy Rapid Response Team for this purpose in June 2020.

  • The PRC proposed to institute a Credible Messengers program in New Rochelle. Formerly incarcerated community members with street credibility receive mediation training “to connect with and motivate the most at-risk young people to successfully challenge and transform destructive thinking, attitudes, and actions.”

  • The PRC wants to create new jobs, presumably staffed by people recommended by the committee:

    • NRPD Data Entry Clerks (full salary, working for NRPD)

    • Community Stakeholder Liaisons (full salary, working for Youth Bureau)

    • Resident Security Officers (stipends, equipment, working for NRMHA)

    • 5 new NRPD Officers assigned only to Heritage Homes and Peter Bracey (full salary, working for NRPD)


The PRC led this section of their report by calling for an “all-civilian structure with discipline power” then listed several models:

  • The PRC assists in determining policy (the City Manager said this would violate the City Charter and be subject to either Impact or Collective Bargaining negotiations). A legal opinion on this is included in the Staff Response to the PRC Report.
  • Serious Incident Review Board (City Manager said this idea had merit)
  • Civilian Review Board (Westchester County is considering this already)
  • Office of an Inspector General (The City Manager’s proposed 2021 budget includes the creation of an Inspector General position which would be housed in the Law Department and would conduct independent investigations involving all City employees, including the Police Department).


The PRC proposed Body Cams and Dash Cams. Both are already contained in the City Manager’s 2020 budget.

The PRC sought a “guarantee” that the NRPD would not purchase or look for grants to purchase military-grade weapons including rubber bullets and chemical gases. The NRPD already has all this equipment and more. The City Managed shot this down in no uncertain terms.


The PRC proposed radically altering hiring practices including, inexplicably, lowering educational requirements and coming up with a point system to weight NPRD applicants higher if they show they have “a range of desirable attributes, specifically focused to mitigate the disparate impact that minority or working class, or low-income candidates.” Most of the PRC proposals violate New York State Civil Service Laws.

Five years ago, a similar committee, the New Rochelle Committee On Community Policing, issued its report, 21st Century Policing in New Rochelle in November 2015.

The new plan would be similar to New York City’s new “Collaborative Policing initiative” where officers spend up to 33% of their time meeting and working with community members, and identifying recurring problems and issues.

The entire department would be retrained in the Community Policing philosophy, youth programs like Gang Resistance Education and Training would be enhanced and past programs like D.A.R.E. would be brought back, create “safe spaces” for community dialog with police, designate or hire a grant writer to seek community policing grants, enhance diversity hiring, work closely with the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, create a permanent Community Policing committee, and encourage volunteerism by police officers

Earlier this year, the New Rochelle City Council designated two representatives to the committee, Council Members Jared Rice and Louis Trangucci. The committee was chaired by Dr. Cathryn Lavery, Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at Iona College, and Michele Rodney, Esq., Dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Monroe College. Members of the NRCCP are Jackie Agudelo, Walter Brown, Martin Cassidy Matt Costa, Esq., Bruce Daniele, Detective Chris Greco, Rev. DeQuincy Hentz, Sgt. Barry Johnson, BreeAna Jones, Cynthia Lobo, Esq., Sgt. Calvin McGee, Timothy McKnight, Claudia Perez, David Peters, and Camille Edwards Thomas.

The 2020 iteration of the New Rochelle Committee On Community Policing was tasked with 5 main areas of focus:

New Rochelle Police Review Committee

  • Use of Force policy/training
  • Data disclosure and transparency
  • Community engagement
  • Oversight/Discipline/Complaint procedures
  • Equipment
  • Other issues

The City Manager appointed the committee members over the summer:

Policing Review Committee Established August 14, 2020

Facilitator (non-voting)

  • Council Member Yadira Ramos-Herbert (represents City Council)

Community Members

  • Lisa Burton
  • Alvin Clayton
  • Kwamain Dixon
  • Natasha Fapohunda
  • Robin Frankel
  • Nat Harris
  • Carmelo Hernandez
  • Jason Labate
  • Timothy McKnight, Jr. (removed)
  • Wynter Parham
  • Derek Pierson
  • Wendell Sears
  • Emma Silva
  • Jabari Skeene
  • Steven Sonet

Staff Members

  • Police Commissioner Joseph Schaller
  • Deputy Police Commissioner Robert Gazzola
  • Chief of Staff/Corporation Counsel Kathleen Gill
  • City Manager Strome

Few, if any, of the “new” ideas of the New Rochelle Police Review Committee are any more likely to be adopted by the New Rochelle Police Department than was the case five years ago.

New Rochelle Police Review Committee Presentation to City Council (November 24, 2020)

New Rochelle Police Review Committee Report and Staff Response (November 2020)

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