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Residents of Syracuse’s south and east neighborhoods at a police reform forum Tuesday expressed fear and mistrust of police in the city.
The forum, hosted over Zoom, was part of a series conducted by the Onondaga County Police Reform and Reinventive Collaboration. The collaboration was established as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203, a piece of police reform legislation passed in June in light of nationwide protests against police brutality following the killing of George Floyd.
Rev. H. Bernard Alex of Victory Temple Fellowship Church led Tuesday’s forum, where Syracuse residents could share their experiences with city police and discuss potential police reforms.
“This is about an opportunity to be a part of reinventing, reforming and redefining what policing will look like,” Alex said. “It is a process, and it is going to be an intentional effort process moving forward.”
One resident shared their experience with trauma after finding his mother dead at home. He claimed that police officers who responded laughed while they took pictures of his mother’s body.
Another resident claimed that in 2017, police kicked in his door while he was throwing a party, unplugging the building’s video surveillance before arresting a few people attending.
Ranette Releford, the administrator for the city’s Citizen Review Board, encouraged residents to file a report when they think the police have committed misconduct. The Citizen Review Board is an oversight committee that reviews complaints against the Syracuse Police Department.
“I would encourage you to be as specific as possible and start writing down notes as to where these incidents occurred, the time and the place,” Releford said.
Police Chief Kenton Buckner said the Department of Justice, along with others, sponsored a grant for two independent consultants to assess the hiring, recruiting and retention processes of the department. The assessment, which is expected to last about 60 days, will provide the department with information on how to improve operations, he said.
“It takes a very long time and a very concerted effort to change community perceptions,” said Peter McCarthy, a member of the Citizen Review Board. “People don’t report stuff, for the reason that they feel nothing is going to happen, that they’ll be treated badly, that they may be threatened, that they may suffer retaliation.”
Published on January 19, 2021 at 10:06 pm
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