DePietro eyes agreement on police data

The council is considering changes to the collection of demographic data on people stopped by police in the city of Hudson. Aliya Schneider/Columbia-Greene Media

HUDSON — The common council will reassess a resolution calling for the police department to provide gender and race data for all stops, this time in conjunction with the department and the public.

The council passed the resolution Jan. 19 requiring gender and race data for all traffic and pedestrian stops. All members voted in favor of the resolution except 5th Ward Alderman Dominic Merante.

But after realizing there were issues with how the resolution would impact police policy, Common Council President Thomas DePietro said Feb. 8 the resolution will be rewritten, hopefully in time for a Feb. 16 council vote.

But DePietro announced Feb. 16 that an ad hoc committee will discuss the resolution at 6 p.m. March 3. Hudson Police Chief L. Edward Moore and a police union representative will attend. The meeting is open to the public.

Hudson police officers do not make blotter entries every time they stop a vehicle or talk to a pedestrian, but that could change, Moore said.

The department has a sampling of race and gender data from more than half of its traffic-stop blotter entries, which are instances where drivers received tickets, he said.

Of 947 traffic citations in 2020, 490 included race in the blotter entries: 360 Caucasian, 99 Black, 29 other and two Asian or Pacific Islander, according to police department data supplied by Moore. From the sampling of racial data collected, traffic stops are proportional with the racial makeup in Hudson, Moore said.

He said the sampling is adequate.

Hudson officers are not required to provide gender and race data in their blotter entries, also known as incident reports, Moore said. When they do, it’s based on observation. The proposed requirement raised questions as to how officers would gather the data. Since driver’s licenses contain the person’s sex, but not their gender or race, officers would have to ask to be sure.

“At one point, does the interrogation become intrusive?” Moore said Monday. “And at one point, does it not become acceptable to citizens?”

An officer’s choice to note racial and gender data in their incident reports depends on the circumstance, Moore said. How much time an officer has, whether they are in danger or if they know the person’s identity are among reasons officers may not enter identifying data in the blotter. “I don’t mandate race and sex in every report,” he said. “It’s not an order right now that every time you pull someone over, you make a blotter entry with race and sex. Sometimes they fill it out, sometimes they don’t, but they fill it out more than half of the time.”

Officers don’t make blotter entries for every interaction with the public, such as talking to somebody on the street, Moore said.

The council started the year by discarding its traditional committee structure, a decision led by DePietro. Instead of the old committees, ad hoc committees are now created to address specific topics. The 2021 failed police resolution was initially voted on by the council without committee or police department input.

DePietro said he hopes the new ad hoc committee will result in an amended version of the resolution.

“I truly hope we can have a version that we can agree on March 3,” DePietro said.

First Ward Alderwoman Jane Trombley, 2nd Ward Alderman Dewan Sarowar, 3rd Ward Alderman Calvin Lewis and 4th Ward Alderman John Rosenthal will be on the committee, DePietro announced to the council. In response, Merante asked if he could join the committee and DePietro hesitated before including him. DePietro declined to comment on the reason for his hesitation.

Merante has two nephews in the police department.

“I have not done anything differently in terms of when I sat on the police committee swaying any way,” Merante said. “Anything can be construed as a conflict. We’re a small city.”

Merante did not hear about the new committee before the members were announced to the council, Merante said.

DePietro gives opportunity for all council members to volunteer to sit on ad hoc committees, DePietro said.

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