Police agencies across the state of New York are required to submit plans on how they plan to update their strategies and programs with community input.
On Monday, officials in Seneca County invited the public to weigh in and learn more about the process. It was the first of three scheduled forums and is part of the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The goal of the Seneca County Police Reform and Reinvention Forums is to keep the public informed of local law enforcement's current practices and how the public can help them move forward.
The Seneca County Sheriff's Office and the Seneca Falls, Waterloo, and Interlaken police departments are considering reforms to community interactions, operational policies, recruitment, training, transparency, equality and social justice.
Some residents at the forum questioned why the reforms needed to be considered because they believe Seneca County doesn't have the same problems as some cities in the state.
Waterloo Police Chief Jason Godley responded that although they feel they have a good relationship with their community, there can always be improvements.
"I get it. Seneca County may not be like the other places in New York and it gets tiring day after day, but I think you have people with various responsibilities that can respond to a wide variety of situations and that becomes taxing one on jurisdiction and you already have that in this county," Chief Godley explained.
The forum also touched on the importance of partnering local law enforcement with the Seneca County Mental Health Department and the Finger Lakes Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program to respond to calls.
Officials say that will minimize arrests and provide increased access to other community resources for those who need it.
Residents were then given a survey asking how they felt about their local police departments.
"An environment of collaboration will truly be embraced and I think that political differences will be able to put aside to enact change," said Bob McKevney, the moderator of the forum.
There will be two virtual forums for residents in Seneca County this week.
The next one will be on Wednesday in Seneca Falls and Thursday in Waterloo.
Both start at 6 p.m.
The final plan must be submitted to the state by February.