BY DR. LOUIS ALPERT
The Town of Clarkstown has a proud history, which often included innovations that were unique to Rockland County. One such innovation was their creation of a Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) back in the 1990s.
This Ombudsman was appointed by the Clarkstown Town Board to this first “CCRB” and still remains, decades later, as one of its members.
For this reason, I was recently contacted by the University of Indiana, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, which is conducting a major National Survey of all of the existing 125 CCRBs in America. Clarkstown’s CCRB is the ONLY one located in Rockland, and there are just 10 more located in all of New York State including NYC, Albany, Yonkers, Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, Ossining, Newburgh, Ithaca and Schenectady.
The rationale for creating these board in the first place was to allow civilians, who might have disagreed with the treatment given to them by a police officer, generally in a noncriminal case, the opportunity to have their “side of the story” heard by an impartial body, which will treat both the civilian and the officer in the fairest possible way. In many instances, this may only involve correcting a misunderstanding between the two parties. However, the very existence of these boards helps to foster the mutual respect for the feelings of civilians and police officers. In this regard, the Chairman of a Washington, DC, CCRB has stated:
“Every officer’s job on the beat will be easier if the community trusts the officer. People will more readily call the police and they’ll more readily approach the officer with information on tips.”
In completing the National Survey, this Ombudsman, now wearing the hat of a long-time member of Clarkstown’s CCRB, was most pleased to report the near absence of complaints brought to the attention of our board over the more than two decades of its existence!
In the opinion of this Ombudsman and current CCRB board member, this establishes the Town of Clarkstown’s CCRB as a true “WINNER” in this National Survey. The credit for this belongs, in large measure, to all of the Town of Clarkstown administrations, dating from the 1990s, who kept this Board “ALIVE,” including Clarkstown’s current Supervisor George Hoehmann.
The continued existence of Clarkstown’s CCRB has ensured an excellent relationship between Clarkstown’s Finest and the residents they serve.
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