LYONS — Wayne County’s Police Reform and Reinvestment Plan that was submitted to the state earlier this year called for a number of civilian committees to give the public a greater say in policing matters related to minorities.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Ken Miller of Palmyra said the county intends to follow up on what it promised in its submission to the state.
Miller told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that the county is moving ahead with the formation of the committees, kicking it off with what he and Wayne County Youth Advocate Programs Inc. Assistant Director James Schuler are calling a Unity Festival.
No date has been set, said Miller, but it’s likely to be in September.
The festival would mark a kickoff of sorts for recruiting members of the committees, which include a Minority Community Advocacy Committee, a Civilian Review Advisory Board and a number of other bodies that would include county officials and members of the minority community.
“This (Unity Festival) is going to be the next step into trying to put together (the) groups,” Miller said. “We just want people who have the time and are willing to participate.”
Schuler, who stood with Miller in front of the supervisors, said the festival’s name says it all: It’s an opportunity to unite the county when it comes to policing and race.
He said it’s “a chance to show that the county is not as divided as the rest of the state.”
Schuler was a critic of the county’s police reform plan, for which he was a participant in parts of its development.
He said the plan the county put together was short on details, and he urged supervisors to improve the document. County leaders subsequently made modifications to the plan, which included the creation of several civilian committees. Another addition to the document was a proposal to purchase or create a records management system that would track whether police in Wayne County disproportionately target minority populations.
The modified reform plan included the creation of a mobile crisis intervention team for mental health issues. That initiative is underway, and the county’s Mental Health Department is in the process of hiring 14 people for the teams, which would be available 24/7.