Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Members of police Citizen Complaint Review Board sworn in

Peekskill Common Council members pose for a picture with new members of the police Civilian Complaint Review Board at City Hall Monday night.

Nearly a year and a half after the city passed a local law creating a police oversight board, members were sworn in by Mayor Vivian McKenzie during Monday’s Common Council meeting.  

Dennis Adams, Jay P. Buckiewicz, Antonio Knott, Lisa E. McClain, and Harriet Ray were appointed to the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB). All five individuals’ backgrounds and qualifications were reviewed by a nominating committee and City Manager Matt Alexander. 

In June 2020, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order, titled “New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative” , in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, which requires each local government in New York state to adopt a police reform plan. The city of Peekskill adopted its Police Reform Plan in March 2021. As a result of that plan, the city established a Civilian Complaint Review Board the following year to provide civilian participation in the complaint review process involving Peekskill police officers.  

Adding and Deleting Agenda Items

Council members moved to pull resolution number seven from their voting agenda. That item would have allowed the city manager to accept a grant from the federal Department of Justice in the amount of $375,000 for the purpose of hiring three new police officers. Alexander said there were other costs associated with accepting the grant. The council added a final resolution to the 14-item agenda, which authorized the city manager to sign the check in the settlement of a lawsuit filed by David Maldonado for $1 million plus additional fees. The council would go on to pass this resolution later in the meeting. Councilman Ramon Fernandez opposed. To read more about this lawsuit, click here.

City Manager Report 

City Manager Alexander reported on a few items including the meetings between Corporation Counsel Michael Hartman and Chief of Police Leo Dylweski discussing the possibility of installing cameras in certain locations in the city for speed detection and traffic control.

Lights at Broad Street haven’t been activated for red and green yet. (Herald file photo)

Alexander added that there are legal obstacles to installing cameras and the city is looking into it. The locations being considered, where the cameras would be installed, were not mentioned.

DARE Services for Town of Cortlandt 

Council members accepted a resolution authorizing execution of an inter-municipal agreement with the Town of Cortlandt to provide DARE instruction to the 5th grade classes in the Hendrick Hudson School District and St. Columbanus School for the 2023-24 school year. DARE, or Drug Abuse Resistance Education, is an education program, geared toward young children, that tries to prevent use of controlled drugs, membership in gangs, and violent behavior. Peekskill Police DARE instructors have administered the DARE program in these schools since the spring of 2017. 

According to a memorandum from the police chief, the Town of Cortlandt will compensate the city of Peekskill $37,194 for the program. 

Johnson Reappointed for 10 Years 

City Judge Reginald Johnson.  (Herald file photo)

For the second to last item on the agenda, council members moved to accept a resolution reappointing Reginald J. Johnson, as the full time judge in the city of Peekskill for a ten year term. In 2014 when Johnson was appointed to the bench, he was the first African-American judge in Peekskill’s history. As part of the citizen’s hearing earlier in the meeting local attorney Matthew Mazzamurro spoke to the character of Judge Johnson. “I’ve been a resident of Peekskill and the Cortlandt area for nearly 50 years and have had an office in Peekskill for over 20 years and have been going to the Peekskill court for nearly all those 20 years. In that time, by far, Judge Johnson has been the best judge in that court. He treats everyone with respect and dignity and he’s extremely knowledgeable.  He listens to all the arguments, there’s no pre judging,” said Mazzamurro.  

Citizens Desiring to be Heard 

Following action on agenda items, citizens got the opportunity to be heard by council members. The first citizen that spoke was Cynthia Knox, CEO of Caring for the Hungry and Homeless of Peekskill (CHHOP). Knox had a few passionate remarks to share with the council regarding Fred’s Pantry, a program of CHHOP.

Food distribution at Fred’s Pantry. (Herald file photo)

“In 2022, through twice-weekly food distributions, Fred’s Pantry provided healthy nutritious food and access to legal, immigration, child care and health care services to over 90,000 duplicated people,” explained Knox. Duplicated people means if a person is single and they come to the food pantry once a week for 52 weeks, that counts as 52. If there is a family of five and they come to the food pantry once a week, that counts as 260 duplicated visits. This is a standard of measuring visits to food pantries from Feeding America. 

“Fred’s Pantry is on the verge of losing its home. There are significant delays to the relocation of Jan Peek House and the lease expires next month. The landlord has not agreed to a new lease. We need our city government to be actively partnering to help ensure that these vital services don’t disappear in our community. We need a new home for Fred’s Pantry and Jan Peek House and we need the city and the community to be in partnership to find places where this work can continue,” said Knox. 

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Dec. 1 to explain what 90,000 duplicated visits means. 


About the Contributor
Jeffrey Merchan
Peekskill native Jeffrey Merchan is a 2022 graduate of Peekskill High School. He is the Collegiate Journalist at Peekskill Herald, funded by a grant from the DJ McManus Foundation. He is currently enrolled at Westchester Community College where he is studying journalism. As the inaugural recipient of the McManus grant, he will be covering city government, schools and feature stories with a focus on Peekskill’s growing Hispanic community.