SCHENECTADY — The city has pinned down the final details governing its state-mandated police reform process.
All nine meetings will be recorded by Open Stage Media, which will broadcast the events on Spectrum channels 1301, 1302, 1303 and Verizon Fios channels 36, 37, and 38.
The producer will also livestream meetings on their YouTube channel.
The Schenectady Police Reform & Reinvention Collaborative will hold the kickoff meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m. when Police Chief Eric Clifford and other officials are expected to give an overview of the department and the initiative.
The effort will present nine meetings in two weeks, all of them virtual.
The moderated panel discussions will be organized into specific groups and will explore a broad range of police-related topics, including but not limited to, use of force policies, systemic racial bias, de-escalation training, community-based outreach and procedural justice, which is the concept of how police interact with the general public.
The panels are closed discussions.
Residents who want to submit testimony or feedback are asked to submit comments to [email protected]
The city is working with the Albany-based Finn Institute for Public Safety to collect and track input and themes and to survey participants, officials said.
A second opportunity for comment will be given once a plan enters the legislative process, which requires City Council approval by April 1.
With logistics now ironed out for the collaborative, City Council members are pivoting to prepare materials on their end.
Yet tensions remain as lawmakers continue to disagree on the extent to which they should be engaged in the process.
City Councilwoman Marion Porterfield has said the City Council should be assertively reviewing City Code and policies at the same time as the community panels so that lawmakers are well-versed during the ratification period.
Other council members, however, are concerned about running parallel efforts that could be perceived as undermining the community-driven process.
Porterfield on Monday said the city’s Civilian Police Review Board is lacking the advisory committee outlined in the City Code, and lawmakers should study the issue in conjunction with the panels.
“This is the perfect time to amend the bylaws if necessary,” Porterfield said.
Yet others, including City Councilwoman Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas, said the City Council should let the process play out, and let the community first offer its suggestions on how to reshape the panel, which is the civilian arm of the police accountability process.
“I believe what we want to do is let the process that’s happening right now happen,” said Zalewski-Wildzunas, who acknowledged lawmakers should at least review the bylaws.
“But let’s not rush into this until we have an idea of what the community wants the review board to look like.”
Porterfield contended that whatever the community comes up with, any changes will ultimately fall under the purview of the City Council, which should be familiar with the City Code they’d be tasked with modifying.
“It’s frustrating for me,” Porterfield said.
Several groups have called for changes to the board, including giving its members subpoena power.
Clifford said discussion of the panel is on the agenda for the upcoming meetings.
Schenectady Police Reform & Reinvention Collaborative meeting schedule
- Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 6 p.m.: Kick off
- Thursday, Oct. 22 at 6 p.m.: Community group meeting
- Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 6 p.m.: Finn Institute Presentation on procedural justice
- Thursday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m.: Faith-based groups meeting
- Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 6 p.m.: Neighborhood groups meeting
- Thursday, Nov. 5: Public safety group meeting (noon) and business association meeting (6 p.m.)
- Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m.: Youth/education group meeting
- Thursday, Nov. 12 6 p.m.: Wrap-up meeting
Open Stage Media broadcasts are available on Spectrum channels 1301, 1302, 1303, Verizon Fios channels 36, 37, 38, and also posted on the OSM YouTube page: www.youtube.com/openstagemedia.