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In March, the New Rochelle City Council adopted a Policing Reform and Collaborative Plan, intended to enhance the quality, transparency and fairness of law enforcement practices in New Rochelle, while also providing our Police Department with the support and tools necessary to discharge its vital mission. The Plan contains multiple components and recommendations, including the creation of a thirteen-member Community-Police Partnership Board (CPPB) comprised of four members from the New Rochelle Police Department, one senior City staff member, one City Council Member, and seven members from the community.
In April, the City opened applications for the community positions on the CPPB, seeking residents with the experiences, skills, leadership roles, and perspectives relevant to the CPPB’s duties and particularly those from neighborhoods or demographic groups with higher than average frequency of Police interaction.
At the close of the application period, over 50 submissions were received, and after careful consideration a seven-member slate has been nominated by Mayor Noam Bramson for confirmation by the City Council at their June 15 meeting. Nominees are: Rev. David Holder (Community Co-Chair), Dr. Betty Campbell, Karina Cortez, Natasha Fapohunda, Michael Kushner, Minister Mark McLean, and Wendell Sears. Additional appointments to the CPPB are Deputy Commissioner Robert Gazzola (Police Co-Chair), Lt. Edward Hayes, Lt. Raul Rodriguez, and Det. Lt. Neil Reynolds from the New Rochelle Police Department; City Council Member Yadira Ramos-Herbert and City Corporation Counsel and Chief of Staff Kathleen Gill.
The Board’s responsibilities include reviewing and recommending improvements to police training, protocols and policies; examining serious incidents, and recommending a framework for the creation of a Civilian Complaint Review Board.
“I am grateful for the anticipated service of the members of the CPPB, who bring enormous breadth of relevant personal and professional experience to the vital challenge of advancing both public safety and racial justice in our community,” said Mayor Bramson. “I am grateful also to the dozens of other New Rochelle residents who applied to join the CPPB and look forward to an inclusive, collaborative process that invites meaningful public engagement.”
Rev. David Holder is nominated as Community Co-Chair. “We are determined to make a difference toward positive police reform in our city,” he said. “I am confident in the board that was assembled—their resolve, relevant experience and commitment to New Rochelle.”
Police Co-Chair, New Rochelle Police Deputy Commissioner Robert Gazzola, said, “The New Rochelle Police Department members of the CPPB look forward to working collaboratively with the resident members of the board to address those issues directly affecting the New Rochelle Police Department, its members, and the New Rochelle community. Through this board, we look to build upon the relationships that we have cultivated over the years with our community.”
City Council Member Yadira Ramos-Herbert was the facilitator of the Policing Review Committee and was instrumental in developing the recommendations at the heart of the City’s policing reform efforts. "I am so grateful to the members of the community, police department and City staff who have agreed to give their time to partner and work together to create positive and forward-thinking change in a way that will make New Rochelle the model for how other communities can engage in constructive dialogue around issues of race and equity," she said.
Profiles of the nominees follow below.