SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — After considering outsourcing its animal cruelty investigations to an outside agency, the Syracuse Police Department has committed to keeping the unit.
In an interview with NewsChannel 9 on Wednesday, Chief Kenton Buckner said he wasn’t satisfied with alternative options and heard loud and clear from animal advocates that they preferred the current set-up.
Buckner said, “I probably got 50 emails about the topic, close to 18,000 or so petitions signed. That’s great. I tip my hat to them. I wish that other organizations were able to generate the kind of energy they were able to do on the part of animals that we can 15- and 13-year-olds being murdered.”
Chief Buckner and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh shared the decision Wednesday at a meeting with animal advocates, who had started a campaign to ensure the city replaced the retiring animal cruelty investigator with another Syracuse police officer.
Instead, the City of Syracuse had researched a possible partnership with the SPCA to take over its animal cruelty investigations.
At the time, a city employee emailed animal advocates: “The Department is in the early stages of exploring a potential partnership with the ASPCA for animal cruelty investigations. The Department continues to review the matter and has not made any determination.”
Animal advocates from 11 different agencies signed onto a Change.org petition to encourage the city to keep the unit, citing the number of animals saved and its record of arrests.
Nick DeMartino, who oversees the Volunteer Advocate Lawyers for Animal Abuse group, told NewsChannel 9: “We hear a lot about defunding the police and reimagining the police. We think the police do a fantastic job in this particular area and we hope they continue doing what they’re doing.”
Advocates worried that the SPCA’s investigators won’t have the same authority the police do on city streets. The SPCA staff can make arrests, but not as proactively patrol for abuse, execute search warrants or seize guns and drugs.