Public Safety

Syracuse Citizens Seek Transparency From the City’s Police Department

SPAARC Members lobby for more school counselors over more school resource officers at the Syracuse City School District Board of Education community engagement forum on May 24 at the HW Smith Pk-8 School. (c) 2018 Coran Klaver

Click here to learn about how citizens are trying to keep the Syracuse Police Department transparent, and what the police force is doing to connect with the community.

Audio Transcript: Syracuse Police Transparency Transcript

By Keir Chapman SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — The call for police transparency is being heard in Syracuse. Organizations like the Syracuse Police Accountability and Reform Coalition (SPAARC), are demanding that local officers be held accountable when citizen complaints are brought against them.

The Citizen Review Board (CRB) was created so residents could ensure the integrity of the Syracuse Police Department. The CRB serves as an outlet for community complaints against members of the department, to be heard and judged impartially. SPAARC member Coran Klaver believes in the concept of the CRB, but felt the board struggles to actually serve its purpose.

“The Citizen Review Board has subpoena powers, but the D.A almost never enforces those subpoena powers,” Klaver said.  “So, officers do not show up to testify.”

Sergeant Richard Helterline of the SPD, told NCC News that the police force is working closely with the community to make sure local problems are being taken care of. The Community Policing Division attends neighborhood watch meetings that are held to address the concerns of Syracuse citizens. The information the officers learn, is then shared with the rest of the department.

Klaver said that SPAARC has also had an impact on the hiring process of the new Syracuse Police Chief. According to Klaver, Mayor Ben Walsh told the organization he would consider candidates from all over the nation, along with the possibility of promoting from within the SPD. Klaver believes an outside hire would potentially be more impartial.

The department has also taken resident input into consideration during the search. They have held multiple meetings to gather opinions from Syracuse citizens on what criteria should be used when hiring the new police chief.