Community weighs in at public forum on SPD ‘Use of Force’ policy

(WSYR-TV) — It’s been a difficult month for the community when it comes to law enforcement in Syracuse, but the meeting held Friday night was the Syracuse Police Department’s attempt to turn that around.

Police Chief Kenton Buckner, Mayor Ben Walsh, and other local leaders were on-hand as residents weighed in on the updated “use of force” policy at a public forum at Saint Lucy’s Church downtown.

While having a new use of force policy is one step toward change, some people think it’s decades overdue.

“The same officers that beat, terrorize, and hurt others on the old use of force policy are still on the force and they’re still going to do the same thing again,” said Alexandra Makki, a concerned citizen.

Chief Kenton Buckner admitted there’s a long history of mistreatment, but his current force is committed to doing the right thing.

“I believe the vast majority of our officers do their job. When officers step outside our policy, any policy that we have, use of force included, there will be accountability for that,” said Chief Kenton Buckner with the Syracuse Police Department.

Chief Buckner and Syracuse Mayor, Ben Walsh, took everyone’s concerns into consideration but more importantly, to be followed by action. Changes both leaders have said will not happen overnight.

“As painful as tonight was for some, as raw as the emotions were, it was necessary and hopefully part of a healing process for the entire community,” said Mayor Ben Walsh.

Four additional meetings regarding the police department — not just exclusive to the new policy update — will be held soon:

Thursday, July 25           

  • South side – Hiring and Recruitment
    • South side Innovation Center
    • 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
    • 2610 S. Salina St.

Thursday, August 29      

  • North side
    • Magnarelli Community Center, McChesney Park 
    • 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Friday, September 27     

  • East side
    • East Fayette Boys and Girls Club, 2100 E. Fayette St.
    • 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Friday, October 18          

  • Downtown
    • City Hall Commons Atrium, 201 E. Washington St.
    • 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The forums were put into motion after an arrest last month that put the department’s use of force policy front and center. The arrest of Shaolin Moore, who was pulled over for loud music, was caught on camera by a passenger in the car and posted to social media where it was viewed thousands of times.

Two officers involved were cleared of being too forceful but were disciplined for not meeting the department’s expectations for professionalism during the traffic stop.

To read the SPD’s policies, click the links below:

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