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New Syracuse Police Chief Begins Job, Sets Goals

Chris Bolt

Syracuse’s new Chief of Police began his job just moments after a brief swearing in ceremony at the Public Safety Building. Mayor Ben Walsh issued the oath of office to Kenton Buckner, the former head of Little Rock Arkansas’ department. 

Walsh said the search was steered by community comments such as accountability and safe neighborhoods.

“We wanted experience from a diverse urban community, and more than anything, we want a relationship. A relationship between the community, our chief of police and the entire police department,” Walsh said.

Chief Buckner thanked city leaders for the opportunity and said it’s now time for him to come through on the promises he made during the hiring process.

“As I begin, my top three priorities will be reducing violent crime, strengthening our relationship with our community and our professional partnerships and recruiting and hiring a police department that is reflective of our community,” Buckner said.

Credit Chris Bolt / WAER News
New Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner speaks to the crowd about his incoming goals for the community.

He wants to meet with local businesses, clergy, non-profits, city leaders and others to see what people’s thoughts and challenges are.  He called Syracuse a great city, but one that has challenges.  He’s asking people to stay involved and vigilant.  

“When we’re right I ask that you support us. When we’re wrong, I ask that you hold us accountable. I ask that you do both with the same amount of energy. I plan to do the same thing for our officer,” Buckner said. “As your Chief of Police, I look forward to serving in this great city and thank you in advance for assisting your police department.”

He said the city is at a tipping point, ready to fulfill its goals and opportunities or have frustrations over crime hold us back. Buckner took over for Frank Fowler, who spent nine years as Police Chief and a total of 29 years on the force.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.