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Citizen Review Board Calls Syracuse's Police Reform Plan A "Starting Point" Toward Accountability

WAER file photo

The head of the agency tasked with investigating complaints of police misconduct in Syracuse is calling the newly adopted police reform plan a “starting point” toward transparency and accountability. 

Citizen Review Board Administrator Ranette Releford says the plan comes up short in providing the CRB critical information.

“The CRB does get provided copies of the body-worn camera footage if it’s available at the time of an investigation. We had previously asked for unfettered access to body-worn camera footage.”

Releford says she’d also prefer stronger language about the CRB’s role in investigations. 

“We urge that they implement the participation and process of the CRB as a mandated inclusion, and those discussions with the PBA and any sort of police discipline process.”

She would also like the cases being reviewed by the CRB and their recommendations to be included in the department’s public safety dashboard.  Releford says this will allow the community to ensure the reform plan is being followed.  

“I do believe that as long as the public, the community, the administration, and the counselors are all looking, and holding people’s feet to the fire related to this; I think that that does help to ensure its implementation.”

Releford is optimistic that the SPD and CRB can work together to build trust between each other and the community.   

“Like-minded people understand the fact that oversight is important, accountability is important, transparency is important, and that when the two departments work together, it is a win-win for everyone.”

The city’s police reform and reinvention plan has been described as a living document, which Releford hopes leaves the door open for additional changes in the future.  She also meets monthly with Chief Kenton Buckner to discuss progress between the two agencies about the inner workings of investigating cases of police misconduct. 

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at