SENECA FALLS — Former Town Supervisor Greg Lazzaro, out of office for eight months, made a return to a Town Board meeting Tuesday as a citizen.
He addressed the board to advocate for reform in the town Police Department and law enforcement in general, especially in dealing with people with mental health issues.
Lazzaro, who was supervisor from 2016-19, said there is a “crisis” today in American policing that needs reform. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has asked that reforms be put in place by April 2021, and Lazzaro urged Seneca Falls to “embrace” the movement.
“There should be a civilian review board to oversee a paradigm change in policies and procedures, especially when there is a mental health crisis,” Lazzaro said. “The emphasis should be to diffuse things in a calm manner and support the person with a mental health problem.”
He said reforms could include an end to police investigating complaints against other police officers; forming a strong working relationship with social service agencies; disbanding police unions; having officers evaluated annually for physical and psychological health; consolidation of police agencies; requiring officers to live in the communities they police; and forming a civilian oversight board.
Current Supervisor Mike Ferrara said he’s been working with Police Chief Stu Peenstra to comply with the governor’s directive.
“I can say I’ve dealt with the Seneca Falls Police Department all my life, and I’m proud of the work they do in serving this community,” Ferrara said.
Peenstra later said his department is already doing mental health and anti-bias training “even as we speak.”
In other matters Tuesday:
• LANDO — The board recognized Mynderse Academy student Grace Lando, who attended the meeting with her parents and sister. Her pencil composite drawing of the faces of women’s rights leader Ida B. Wells and Alice Paul was selected as New York state’s winning entry in the 100th anniversary celebration of women’s suffrage in Washington, D.C.
Ferrara presented her with black pencils, colored pencils, a sketch book and an Amazon gift card, as well as congratulating her for her achievement. He also read a letter from Paul congratulating her and urging the fight for human rights to continue.
• SEWER — Options for resolving a problem with the sewer line and pump station at Kingdom Road were discussed. The line and station serves Route 414 from del Lago Resort & Casino and south.
A bigger line is needed to handle the increased volume, and the option of putting it under the Ludovico Sculpture Trail is off the table. That leaves having the line installed on Fall Street or West Bayard Street to reach the town wastewater treatment plant on Seneca Street.
Further discussion will be scheduled with engineer Peter Baker.