Saratoga County Police Reform Task Force Punts On Recommendations; Supervisor Gaston Lone Dissenter

Under an executive order issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo, local municipalities were to set up committees to recommend changes in police policies in the wake of the George Floyd killing.

In contrast to the task force set up for the city of Saratoga Springs that made explicit recommendations to the city council, the county committee balked at actually recommending pretty much anything.

Consider the following excerpt from the county committee’s report/recommendations. It notes that complaints about misconduct in the sheriff’s department “…are collected and responded to on an ‘ad-hoc’ basis…”

That phrasing sets off my bureaucratic antenna. When I read that delicately crafted sentence I translate it to read, “there is little if any record keeping regarding complaints of sheriff misconduct.”

Currently, complaints submitted by the public to the Sheriff’s Office alleging misconduct are collected and responded to on an “ad-hoc” basis which is dependent, amongst other things, on the substance of the allegation of misconduct. [JK: My emphasis] The Compliance Group received input from the community calling for the consistent and independent review of allegations. The Compliance Group determined that it would be appropriate for the Sheriff to explore [JK: My emphasis] the feasibility of creating a separate position or group within the Sheriff’s Office that would be given responsibility and autonomy to investigate complaints, review policies and audit agency performance.

Committee Recommendations To Board of Supervisors

The committee’s recommendation based on their observation was:

Encourage [JK: my emphasis] the Sheriff consult with the Board of Supervisors and its Public Safety Committee in exploring [JK: my emphasis] the feasibility of creation of a Professional Standards position or group within the Sheriff’s Office to collect and investigating complaints, review and update policy and audit agency performance.

Committee Recommendations To Board of Supervisors

The other “recommendations” are similarly tepid and qualified. As far as I can tell, nothing was set up by the Board of Supervisors at their meeting of February 23 to pursue any further “exploration” of the committee’s “recommendations.”

Supervisor Tara Gaston was the lone voice expressing her concerns about the poverty of the work done by the committee. Here is the relevant excerpt from the minutes of the February 23, 2021 Board of Supervisors meeting:

Ms. Gaston said she asked for a separate vote because she has concerns that there are not actually recommendations that the language is quite soft. She said at a minimum, she would like the Compliance Group to consider reevaluating that language before it’s brought forward again for a final vote. She believes the purpose is for the Board to actually make recommendations to the body not make recommendations to make recommendations to consider something. And, she believes that the Board as a body should take a stronger stance.

Minutes of Board of Supervisors February 23, 2021

2 thoughts on “Saratoga County Police Reform Task Force Punts On Recommendations; Supervisor Gaston Lone Dissenter”

  1. John, Thank you for this writing. I am guilty of not writing to the County Board of Supervisors because I judged from attending virtually or watching the recordings of some meetings of the County 203 group and filling out both surveys they offered that they were going through the motions. I preferred what energy I had to be spent on Saratoga Springs, and still do. And sadly, that too is minimal. Enough. Thank you, Jeannine


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kudos to Supervisor Gaston for taking a stand on this, she is spot on. Having watched some of the County meetings, their Task Force was a complete and total joke. Considering the size of their jurisdiction, I don’t know how they continue to escape criticism-no cameras? Really? Reading their report feels like I am being transported back in time, it’s the wild wild west over there and no one seems to care or want to hold them accountable. What am I missing?


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