On June 19, 2020, Mayor Ben Walsh issued the Syracuse Police Reform Executive Order Action #1. This action called for the City of Syracuse to review, revise, and amend the policies and procedures of the Syracuse Police Department (SPD) to ensure the principles embodied in the New York City Right to Know Act are incorporated into the department’s 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 the record of the consent available to the subject of the search.
The Executive Oder also stated that this would be done in conjunction with legislative action by the Syracuse Common Council, which was approved in a 7-1 vote by the Common Council on October 13, 2020.
The Right to Know Act is a law that adds an additional layer of transparency and accountability to police-community interactions. Although there may be variations of the law in different cities, the main points of the law center around making sure that people have fair access to information about interactions with police. This includes:
- information about the reason for being approached by a police officer;
- information about the police officer’s identity;
- access to documentation that the officer may have filled out about the interaction; and
- periodic public reporting of certain data related to police-citizen encounters.
As of April 1, 2021, the City of Syracuse Police Department has reached full implementation of the operational components of the Syracuse Right to Know Act. Outlined below are the key steps in the implementation of the new law that have been completed as part of the Executive Order Action:
- 2/15/21: SPD began using business cards to identify themselves during interactions with community members.
- 3/23/21: SPD drafted, reviewed, and released a new Right to Know policy.
- 3/29/21: SPD drafted, reviewed, and released a new Consent Search Form.
- 3/29/21: SPD drafted, reviewed, and released a new Stop Report Form.
- 3/31/21: SPD drafted, reviewed, and released new training materials.
- 3/31/21: SPD drafted, reviewed, and released a process map to outline the procedure for implementing Right to Know principles in the field.
These changes will provide heightened accountability and transparency in police-community interactions moving forward. As a next step and in accordance with local law, the Syracuse Police Department will release data on consent searches and stops along with demographic information of those involved in interactions. The data will be released quarterly, starting after the second quarter of this year.
Individuals who have been subject to a consent search can request a record of the consent using the form at the following link: https://bit.ly/syrfoilapplication