Shrouded in Secrecy, New Rochelle Community Police Partnership Board Meets Tonight

May 25 7:00 PM New Rochelle City Hall

Shrouded in Secrecy, New Rochelle Community Police Partnership Board Meets Tonight
Empty seats at recent meeting of CPPB

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (May 25, 2023) — New Rochelle’s Community Police Partnership Board is scheduled to hold its “quarterly” public meeting on May 25, 2023.

As usual, what they will be meeting about remains a mystery.

The term quarterly is in quotation marks because the quarterly public meetings are not held once each quarter. Information about their private meetings is not made public even at public meetings, so the actual workings of the committee is kept secret.

If past is prologue, the meeting room at City Hall will be all but empty — recent meetings have been me and a guy from NewROAR.

Since its inception two years ago, under the leadership of Police Commissioner Robert Gazzola, the CPPB refused to publish a meeting packet in advance with an agenda, related materials and minutes from previous meetings. They have never published any such meeting material on the City website.

Why anyone on the CPPB believes that operating behind closed doors is a path towards building community support for the sensitive nature of its work — responding to the national uproar over police brutality following the murder of George Floyd — is impossible for me to fathom.

I have repeatedly requested written material presented and discussed at CPPB public meetings. I have repeatedly addressed these requests to the CPPB board as a body in public meetings, and to individual members, including police and city officials, in one-on-one conversations.

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My first written request was made October 14, 2021. I have never received a formal acknowledgment, let alone a meaningful response. Here is the body of that email:

I attended last night’s meeting of the CPPB and my experience raises a few questions, some informed by my own experience as co-chair of the District-Wide Healthy and Safety Committee for the New Rochelle Board of Education.

I could not find a web page or “portal” for the CPPB, so if there is one please send a link. If you do not have one, ask (Communications Director) Kathy Gilwit to create one.

I could not find a published way to reach out to the CPPB, so I can only hope this email is going in the right direction. You should consider creating a “role” email like

NOTE: This has since been done, exactly as I proposed:

I found it difficult to follow along with what took place last night, which raises the following:

The District-Wide Healthy and Safety Committee is not legally required to follow OML. We voted, when created in 2016, to follow OML anyway in the interests of transparency (you may recall this was occurring in the midst of a federal corruption investigation of the facilities department which resulted in two convictions). We have a portal page on, we have published minutes, agenda, and meeting packets that contain documents which will be referenced in our meetings. We audio record our meetings and publish all material in our portal on We have a public comment period modeled on the BOE meetings (3 minutes) and discourage back and forth but allow some on a limited basis. We adopted Robert’s Rules of Order to have a formalized way to act as a body but typically vote to operate under the “relaxed” version which allows for more free flowing discussion. There are other things but this is to suggest an approach to consider.

You might want to consider adopting a similar approach including publishing a meeting packet in advance with an agenda and supplemental material.

After last night, it should be apparent you need a public comment policy to prevent speakers (i.e., David Peters) from hijacking meetings as occurred last night.

I could not tell if anyone was taking notes for meeting minutes but it was not apparent.

Even at this late date, you might want to put together and publish a meeting packet both to make the information from last night more widely available and as “practice” on how you may want to do this.

No member of the committee should be responsible for doing actual work like collating a packet or taking notes for minutes or managing a web portal — ask the City to provide such staff work.

Let me stop there for now.

As an ad hoc committee, like the Committee I chaired, the CPPB is not subject to New York State “sunshine laws”: Freedom of Information Law and Open Meeting Law. The board is not legally required to be open and transparent. We chose to be open and transparent in the interest of fostering dialog and (hopefully) community support for our work which included the health and safety of thousands of students and staff, and oversight of the largest bond ($106.5 mm) ever approved by voters in the history of New Rochelle.

Given the mission of the CPPB, police reform in the wake of the the officer-involved deaths of George Floyd and, locally, Kamal Flowers, operating in secret with only fleeting glimpses of their activity is deeply troubling.

Even relevant information they have published has been misleading or outright lies such as grossly inflated claims of the number of sustained civilian complaints. This after years of ignoring the NRPD’s dearth of sustained civilian complaints (two in 50 years), a matter the public might expect to be of interest to a body whose main goal is the creation of a Civilian Complaint Review Board. Instead, they have shown zero interest in the history of civilian complaints made to NRPD about NRPD, exactly the problem their anticipated CCRB is meant to address.

When Deputy Commissioner Neil Reynolds replaced Gazzola a few months ago as co-chair of the CPPB, I renewed my request that the CPPB publish an agenda packet online prior to the next meeting. He agreed to do so. I emailed Reynolds last week to remind him of his commitment to publish a meeting packet. On Tuesday night, an “agenda” was published here.

I put the word “agenda” in quotation marks because what Reynolds, Holder and the CPPB have published on the City of New Rochelle website comes off like a sick joke, like a parody of OML — or flipping the bird at me and my request for openness and transparency. It is certainly an insult to anyone in the community who cares about police reform.

The agenda for tonight’s meeting is another manifestation of the lack of seriousness of purpose by members of the CPPB and disdain for the community they were ostensibly appointed to serve. It is what you would expect with a board described as a “partnership” between “community” and “police” where almost the entire board is either a member of the New Rochelle Police Department, on the City or County payroll, operates a non-profit funded by the City or County, or is involved in real estate development that relies on tax-abatements, taxpayer funding and approvals by the New Rochelle IDA, Planning and Zoning and/or Westchester County.

The quarterly meetings of the CPPB are supposed to provide an opportunity for the board to discuss important issues and work towards improving the partnership between the community and the police. I am curious to hear tonight how the CPPB members believe their “agenda” document accomplishes that. I will ask but do not expect an answer.

The agenda lists typical agenda items: roll call, minutes, updates, committee reports on community outreach, training and use of force, and police conduct, unfinished and new business, a co-chairs' report, and other items, then adjournment. And that is about it.

The only description of any of these agenda items is “update by CGR” with no explanation of what CGR means and what exactly is being updated or by who. After almost two years, the only unfinished business of the CPPB is CGR?

While it is progress from zero, it is a bit thin to say the least. It is basically an outline of an agenda not an actual agenda.

An agenda should be a self-contained document that states every detail of the meeting, not a blank canvas. Their “agenda” document tells the public literally nothing about what will be happening at the meeting.

Here are just a few basic questions not disclosed in their agenda:

  • When is the meeting?
  • Where is the meeting?
  • Who is on the roll being called?
  • Who are the co-chairs?
  • What minutes will be acted upon at the meeting?
  • What do the minutes record?
  • What minutes from which meeting?
  • What topics will the NRPD update?
  • Who will provide the NRPD update?
  • What topics will be covered in reports on community outreach, training and use of force, and police conduct?
  • Who will provide those updates?
  • What is CGR? What update will they provide? What are they updating?
  • Why is there no new business? Does this mean that work of the CPPB is complete except for whatever CGR is about?
  • What will the co-chairs be reporting? Again, who are the co-chairs?

There is no mention of a public comment period or any rules for a public comment period, no mention of how to sign up to speak or who, if anyone, signed up to speak in advance of the meeting.

There are no supporting documents.

Is CGR making a PowerPoint presentation? What does it say? Will any of the reports or updates be read from prepared materials? Where are those?

If the CPPB actually wanted community involvement — to attend meetings, raise concerns, ask questions or simply be able to follow along with an agenda packet that includes a descriptive agenda, minutes of past meetings, and copies of material to be read aloud or otherwise presented then discussed by CPPB members — they would want people to have a clear idea of the work of the CPPB.

What the “agenda” published Tuesday communicates is that the CPPB does not want the community to attend meetings, or know what is planned for these meetings, or what took place at previous meetings. They certainly do not want community engagement as evidenced by the failure to include an agenda item for public comment.

An incomplete, barebones outline is not a meeting agenda — it’s more a template for filling out an agenda.

Here is a good article on how to prepare a meeting agenda. Maybe members of the CPPB could make use of it.

I doubt it because their effort to obfuscate the work of the so-called New Rochelle Community Police Partnership Board has succeeded. From thousands at City Hall on June 3, 2020 to an empty City Hall, three years later, on May 25, 2023.

Remember this?

Where are those people now? How many will join me and the guy from NewROAR and show up tonight? I am betting on not a single one one of them will be there.

These people — performative phonies all — like to get on a stage, scream and shout and stomp their feet and point fingers, but to date have proven unwilling to show up to do the day-to-day work of speaking truth to power and holding the NRPD accountable at a CPPB meeting, the sort of effort I have made routinely for the past 15 years — whether people like it or not.

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