Police Reform: A Continuous Improvement Process.
Syracuse residents, government officials, and coalitions of voices of all ages and races came together to confront systemic racism and improve policing policy and procedures, accountability and community relationships. This time, the movement looked and felt different. It encompassed broader coalitions and more widespread support than previous protest movements. All stakeholders recognized the need for deliberate and intentional police reform.
Mayor Ben Walsh empowered Syracuse Police Department Chief Kenton Buckner to prioritize the implementation of policies and practices to improve and further modernize the Syracuse Police Department in line with 21st Century Policing strategy, while simultaneously mending strained relations with the community. The murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 during an arrest by the Minneapolis Police Department launched massive calls for police reform throughout the world, our nation and the City of Syracuse.
In response to a clear message from our community, Mayor Ben Walsh issued Executive Order 1: Syracuse Police Reform, urgently directing his administration to take sixteen (16) actions to increase police accountability, improve transparency and strengthen police-community relations. The local provisions in the Executive Order address critical issues in the police reform movement found in national data and reports on police concerns including, but not limited to: 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.
In order to address police reform throughout New York State, June 12, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 203 New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative requiring:
In Syracuse, residents, lawmakers, and growing coalitions of new and old voices were engaged in seeking improvements to police accountability and 'more progress, faster.'"
“The local government entity which has a police agency operating with police officers as defined under 1.20 of the criminal procedure law must perform a comprehensive review of current police force deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, and develop a plan to improve such deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, for the purposes of addressing the particular needs of the communities served by such police agency and promote community engagement to foster trust, fairness, and legitimacy, and to address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color.”
The City of Syracuse and its Police Department in accordance with EO No. 203 submitted upon Syracuse Common Council approval on March 15, 2021, the Syracuse Police Reform and Reinvention Plan. The plan addresses areas of policing identified in EO 203:
- Transparency and Accountability
- Community Engagement
- Policies and Procedures
- Training & Wellness
- Diversity in Hiring and Advancement
- Alternatives to Policing
In Syracuse, residents, lawmakers, and growing coalitions of new and old voices were engaged in seeking improvements to police accountability and “more progress, faster.”