Executive Order 16 provisions to strengthen police accountability

Executive Order is part of Syracuse Police Reform Agenda that also includes engagement with stakeholders and protest groups and full compliance with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 203

Leadership and members of Syracuse Common Council join with pledge to advance Right to Know legislation and other police reforms

Syracuse Mayor Walsh signed an Executive Order on Syracuse Police Reform today immediately authorizing 16 actions to strengthen police accountability and improve police-community relations. Among the provisions is the enactment of Right to Know protections for citizens that require officers to identify themselves and provides guidance to officers on appropriately gaining consent to certain searches. At a City Hall announcement, the Mayor was joined by leadership and members of the Syracuse Common Council, who pledged to introduce complementary legislation on Right to Know and to advance other police reform measures.

The Mayor’s three-part Syracuse Police Reform Agenda also included a commitment to engage in dialogue with key stakeholders and protests groups and to ensure the City fully complies with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 203, known as the Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative.

“I’ve had no higher priority than strengthening police accountability and police-community relations as mayor, and I am proud of the progress we have made. The message from our community, however, is clear: we want more progress, faster,” said Mayor Walsh. “The 16 provisions in my Executive Order are actions we can implement now, so there is no reason to wait. As we engage in discussions with key stakeholders and protest groups, they will know we are serious. The Executive Order and engagement with stakeholders set the stage for our City to fully comply with Governor Cuomo’s police reform directive.”

Provisions in the Executive Order address critical issues in the police reform movement locally and nationally including: updating the Syracuse Police Department’s (SPD) use of force policy; presence of police in schools; deployment of police on non-criminal matters; expanding the implementation of body worn and dashboard cameras; review of “no-knock” warrants; use of surplus military equipment; diversity on the police force; and training for all officers on cultural competency and the history of racism in Syracuse and the nation.

 “The Common Council will continue to work with the Administration on implementation whether it is on a policy or legislative level,” said Syracuse Common Council President Helen Hudson. “We will have a Public Safety Committee meeting next week to address and prepare to advance additional reform actions. Right to Know has long been a priority of this Council, and we will take the steps necessary to move it forward.”

The 16 provisions addressed in the Mayor’s Executive Order are:

  1. Review, revise and amend the policies and procedures of the SPD to ensure the principles embodied in the New York City Right to Know Act are incorporated in to the departments policies and procedures, including but not limited to self-identification to citizens, provision of written identification to citizens, obtaining consent to searches, recording consent and making it available to subject.
  2. Revise SPD’s 2019 use of force policy to ensure that it is compliant with recent changes in New York State law, and fully consider any policy changes requested by the Syracuse community.
  3. Revise SPD’s current body worn camera policy to ensure that officers record the entirety of their presence on the scene of a police encounter.
  4. Complete the department’s efforts to obtain additional body worn cameras so that all uniformed officers assigned to patrol or who otherwise respond to citizen calls will be equipped with cameras.
  5. Develop and implement a plan to deploy dashboard cameras on all SPD marked vehicles.
  6. Conduct a complete inventory of all equipment acquired through military surplus programs that are in possession of the SPD; establish policies and procedures regarding the use of such equipment; and establish parameters for future procurement of such equipment. 
  7. Post comprehensive documents on the contract with the Syracuse Police Benevolent Association on the City of Syracuse and/or SPD’s website.
  8. Make SPD policies publicly available on the SPD website.
  9. Develop a process to ensure legal compliance with New York State’s repeal of Civil Rights Law Sec. 50-a and related amendments to the Freedom of Information Law, which require the city to disclose copies of certain police personnel records upon request.
  10. Continue to actively oppose any legal attempt to dissolve or otherwise eliminate the judicial consent decree which continues to be a critically necessary tool to improve the diversity of our police department.
  11. Review the department’s procedure and approval process regarding the application of search warrants that seeks a “no-knock” provision from a court to ensure compliance with Constitutional standards. 
  12. Continue to improve collaboration with the Syracuse Citizen Review Board (CRB) to ensure the flow of documents and information as embodied in Local Law No. 11.
  13. Develop and deliver training on the history of racism in Syracuse and the United States, both in the police academy and during in-service training, such that 100% of the membership of SPD receives this training. Additionally, deliver department-wide training in cultural competency for law enforcement.
  14. Continue to review and upgrade the department’s recruitment, screening and hiring practices, with an aim to increase the diversity of the department’s membership. 
  15. Research and consider innovative, community-based strategies for responding to non-criminal calls, with a goal of shifting the paradigm from primary police response, to response by non-police professionals in relevant fields.
  16. Develop and implement, in coordination with the Syracuse City School District, a new model for school safety and security.

A summary of other actions by the Walsh administration and the SPD can be found here.

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