SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Syracuse Police Department’s first-ever Chief Accountability Officer, Jawwaad Rasheed, gave his first interview to NewsChannel 9 on Thursday.
Rasheed, hired in the last month, will serve as a member of Police Chief Joe Cecile’s executive leadership team.
Rasheed said: “The community has to learn to trust police and the police have to learn to do right by the community… I see that as part of my job.”
Rasheed joins the department at a time when there are some internal investigations into police officers’ actions.
In one case, Officer Milton Sustache is accused of leaving his city post to interfere with his sister’s DWI arrest. Another officer’s forceful arrest of a woman in Armory Square is being reviewed as the department faces a lawsuit for the incident.
Not responding to each case specifically, Rasheed said: “The community has to take note of whatever efforts were made in each incident to do the right thing. People are human.”
Part of Rasheed’s responsibilities includes executing Mayor Ben Walsh’s executive ordering listing 16 points for police reform. Rasheed has been reviewing guidelines the city expects its force to follow.
“Most of the policies, protocols, regulations have been very progressive when you compare them to any like-size city or even larger cities,” Rasheed told NewsChannel 9. “Not only in New York, but across the country. I think this police department is making a great effort to, on paper, they are doing the right thing.”
When asked his response to people who don’t feel what’s “on paper” matches their experience with officers, he said: “I would tell them that’s what I’m working toward: that it is your experience.”
Rasheed most recently worked in Rome and Utica as an Oneida County Family Court Support Magistrate, appointed by governors ranging from Mario Cuomo to Andrew Cuomo.
Rasheed worked in the Monroe County Law Department and its District Attorney’s office.
“Jawwaad’s extensive experience in the judiciary process and progressive knowledge of law and ethics make him an asset to the Department,” said Mayor Walsh. “He will be focused full-time on implementing our police reform initiatives and strengthening police-community relations. Jawwaad will serve both the citizens of Syracuse and our officers well to make certain that SPD’s work enhances a growing city that embraces diversity and creates opportunities for all. The appointment means more capacity in the Office of the Chief to improve policing and public safety.”
Chief Cecile said, “Mr. Rasheed’s vast experience in the Judicial System, as well as his broad involvement in various public and private organizations will be of great assistance to the Syracuse Police Department as we strive to stay progressively on track with our current and future Criminal Justice Reform benchmarks.”
Rasheed was born and raised in Buffalo, before earning his Juris Doctor and his Master of Law from Georgetown University.