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Syracuse Police Oversight Board Wasn't Asked For Input Before Release Of Police Reform Draft Plan

WAER file photo

It appears the agency charged with overseeing police-community relations in Syracuse was not consulted for its input in the city’s police reform draft plan.  The Citizen Review Board, or CRB, is struggling to get its voice heard, and CRB administrator Ranette Releford says she’s frustrated.


"Anything related to the Syracuse Police Department, the CRB has jurisdiction.   We are the oversight agency for the Syracuse Police Department.  How can you do anything policing without including us?"

The 76-page Syracuse Police Reform and Reinvention Draft Plan was quietly released late last week, and largely builds upon the mayor’s executive order from last June.  The plan is also intended to satisfy the Governor’s executive order that all police departments review use of force, racial bias, de-escalation, among other things in response to protests over police treatment of people of color.  Releford with the CRB says the plan seems to enable the board to obtain more information from SPD about questionable police conduct.  But she says there still needs to be a change in how people perceive the CRB and its role in the community.

"Although our legislation says we're supposed to make policy and training recommendations, that doesn't seem to indicate to people that we're supposed to be there when you draft the policy and training recommendations, which doesn't make sense to me."

Instead, Releford says the city needs to seek the CRB’s input before, not after a plan is released.  She says the board intends to submit its feedback at public hearings and meetings.  A final draft needs common council approval, and must be sent to Albany by April first.  While Releford remains optimistic about progress on police reform, she says it’s just a start.

"You can change the policy and the procedure, but you have to look at the culture, and what are we doing to change that.  How do we get you to involve the CRB in the way it was intended to be involved."

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