After two organizational meetings last week, the Schenectady Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative is holding two more virtual gatherings this week.
The collaborative is holding a series of nine virtual panel discussions through November 12, meeting via cable TV and YouTube, about improving police-community relations in accordance with a state directive from Governor Andrew Cuomo to “reimagine” police departments. A final report is due to the state by April.
Tuesday night will feature a presentation by the Albany-based Finn Institute for Public Safety, which is assisting the city in data collection.
Thursday night is devoted to "faith-based groups," with representatives of least 15 local churches and congregations.
City Councilwoman Marion Porterfield, a Democrat, says the panelists that have been selected from a cross-section of social justice and activist organizations can use the opportunity to bring information forward.
"I would like to see a better relationship between the police and all communities, especially communities of color. And I just want to make I would like to make sure that it's fair and equal treatment and that our civilian police review board really has some power and is able to address the different concerns that are that come to them in regards to the police."
Last week, virtual meeting attendees introduced themselves and their affiliated groups and talked about their expectations and ground they'd like the series to cover.
"The communication, the trust between the city and the police department is broken and it has been broken for a very long time.
Lifelong Schenectady resident William Rivas says people are not happy with police-community relations.
"We're looking for accountability, we're not looking for restoration of a broken system. We're looking for change. We're looking for community voices at the table. We're looking for institutional change, which is why people are requesting to look at, you know for a person like that, like myself, I want to understand the policies and procedures. I wanna understand the training. I wanna know what you know. That way, when we sit down and start to have these conversations, that there's institutional change, tangible evidence of, this is what it looks like and this is where we are."
Mikayla Foster is with All Of Us Community Action:
"Hopefully tonight, we'll finally actually see some change, because June 11th we said we had demands for systemic and structural change. It wasn't until June 12th that there was an executive order. Again, long before that, there was a call for change that we've never seen from the mayor or the police chief at the level that we are currently asking for, so manybe we can finally get to some of those."
Ryan Macherone is Lt. of Neighborhood Engagement at the Schenectady PD, which he says is looking for a candid and open conversation...
"We want to be able to listen to what the community says is important to them. In the end, we work for the community. And the changes that we're going to be setting forth here at the police department need to be community driven. So this collaborative effort here is really just a good opportunity for us to listen and then assess the things that need to be changed here at the Department."
Meetings are generally held at 6 p.m. Here are the remaining dates:
• Tuesday, October 27, 6:00pm: The Finn Institute for Public Safety Presentation
• Thursday, October 29, 6:00pm: Faith-Based Groups
• Wednesday, November 4, 6:00pm: Neighborhood Associations
• Thursday, November 5, 12:00pm: Public Safety Organizations
• Thursday, November 5, 6:00pm: Business Associations
• Tuesday, November 10, 6:00pm: Youth and Education Groups
• Thursday, November 12, 6:00pm: Closing Meeting
Members of the public can submit testimony to the Schenectady Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative at any time - via email: email@example.com