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City of Syracuse hires Chief Accountability Officer to oversee police reform at SPD

Jawwaad Rasheed will serve as Syracuse's first Chief Accountability Officer in the Syracuse Police Department
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Syracuse Police Department
Jawwaad Rasheed will serve as Syracuse's first Chief Accountability Officer in the Syracuse Police Department

The City of Syracuse has taken a big step in its efforts to improve police-community relations by hiring a veteran legal expert to serve as its first chief accountability officer in the police department. 

Jawwaad Rasheed’s resume is impressive by almost any standard. He brings more than 40 years of public and private sector service to the role, including decades behind and in front of the bench. Rasheed has also taught courses on the law and ethics and how the legal system interacts with youth. He decided to come out of a brief retirement to take on a new role that he says is a good fit.

"I have always been interested in trying to make relationships better between the police department and the community in which it serves, especially the people of color communities."

Rasheed says as an African American male over 60, his interactions and relationships with police began decades ago as a child.

"I've met some very good officers that in my lifetime, and I met some very bad officers in my lifetime. But I just figured that I would have the wherewithal to be a bridge, if you will, that will allow the bring the community and the police department together."

He’ll serve as a member of police chief Joe Cecile’s executive leadership team, where Rasheed says he needs to be in order to be the most effective at implementing change.

"I think there's no other way to make this kind of change than be right within the police department," Rasheed said. "If you're outside, that means you're outside, you don't know what's going on. If you're in the police department, I'm learning from them all of the various types of training, which is numerous that they go through to get rid of bias, to try to get rid of individual decision making, and make it a uniform approach to policing."

Rasheed says he’s found Chief Cecile to be a very progressive and open minded leader, which sets strong foundation for progress. Rasheed says his first priorities will be making sure the SPD is implementing the 16 reform initiatives in the mayor’s executive order, as well as the governor’s police reform package. He also wants to ensure equality and fairness within the juvenile justice system. Rasheed acknowledges he has his work cut out for him.

"It's gonna be difficult. All of these are difficult issues, Rasheed said. "We have to learn how to find find safe spaces in uncomfortable places. I look at it is, we have no option, we want our police department to be successful, we want our community to be safe, we have no choice but to do this."

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