The Syracuse Police Reform Committee touts a work in progress. “I’m really proud of my city”

Syracuse, NY – Police officers in Syracuse now have access to a phone-based language app for communicating with non-English speakers. They can summon mental health professionals to the scene when they need help dealing with people in crisis. And soon, they will receive training on the history of racism in the police, nationally and in Syracuse.

These are just some of the steps being taken as part of the city’s police reform initiative, according to members of an eight-person committee overseeing the process.

But there is still a long way to go, committee members said during a YouTube presentation Monday evening. They urged members of the public to follow the city’s progress online dashboard and to contact the committee with problems or suggestions.

Some of the information on the website is still spotty. A commenter noted during the YouTube event that a few mandatory quarterly reports containing data on traffic stops and other police interactions seemed to be missing. Police Sergeant. Oversight committee member Mark Rusin said he would make sure the data was released soon.

Like other municipalities in the state, Syracuse was held by Order from Governor Andrew Cuomo in June 2020 to review its procedures in light of the deaths of unarmed black men such as George Floyd, whose killing in May 2020 sparked nationwide protests.

But Syracuse is one of the few cities in New York to form an oversight committee and take Cuomo’s command “as an opportunity for quality improvement,” said Barrie Gewanter, former executive director of the local chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“I’m really proud of my city for doing this, for taking this opportunity,” she said.

During his days at NYCLU, Gewanter had his share of run-ins with Syracuse police over officer conduct, use-of-force policies, and other issues. But as the Common Council appointee to the Syracuse Police Reform and Reinvention Plan Oversight Committee, Gewanter said his concerns were heard.

During an 80-minute YouTube presentation, committee members joined Mayor Ben Walsh and Police Chief Joe Cecile in highlighting information on the city’s website that tracks the progress of 33 actions promised under the reform plan adopted last year. Cécile, who took over as chief last month, said transparency would help police build better community relations.

“Transparency is our friend,” he said.

Among other information, the website contains links to dozens of written police policies, on topics such as body cameras and the use of force. The policy database ranges from “Air Support” to “Warrant Service”.

Ranette Releford, committee member and trustee of the Citizen Review Board, urged city residents to monitor the police reform scorecard and reach out to committee members with their comments.

“We can only do what we know how to do, in a sense, and as much feedback as you provide us with,” Releford said.

In addition to Gewanter, Rusin and Releford, the Supervisory Board includes:

· Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens, Committee Chair.

· Chol Majok, Councilman of Syracuse, President of Public Security.

· David Chaplin, appointed by the mayor.

· Susan Katzoff, attorney for Syracuse Corporation.

· Cimone Jordan, Neighborhood and Business Development Planner.

Do you have a topical tip or story idea? Contact journalist Tim Knauss: E-mail | Twitter | | 315-470-3023.

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