Those who spoke at the first public hearing on Syracuse’s draft police reform plan seemed to focus more on what they felt was missing in the 76 page document. The virtual hearing Thursday evening attracted only about a dozen community members, compared to the hundreds who marched regularly over the summer demanding reform.
TJ Davis with the People’s Agenda for Policing was one of the few who spoke. He questions how compelled police and the administration will be to follow a plan.
“This fight, the executive order, the commitment to change, and the new use of force policy, we’ve still seen multiple instances of police brutality. I think it’s important that when we talk about accountability we talk about it from the lens of: what haven’t we done in terms of accountability yet? This plan doesn’t really include anything that we haven’t done yet.” said Davis.
Davis says there also has to be a commitment to hearing and then enforcing the recommendations of the Citizen Review Board, and agreeing on the thresholds that would result in the firing of an officer. George Kunkel is also with the People’s Agenda, and says the draft reform plan doesn’t go far enough to change how officers respond to someone having a mental health emergency.
“We haven’t heard really anything in the means of alternative response other than this partnership with Liberty Resources which in reality is still a dual response model. It’s still sending police officers to the scene of mental health calls. It’s still giving them discretion of when to call in behavioral health professionals.” said Kunkel.
Kunkel says the plan does nothing to shift accountability away from SPD and its union to other oversight agencies outside of the department.