Community organizations active in Troy held a town hall Sunday evening to share their vision for policing in the Collar City.
In their eyes, Troy’s Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative has fallen short. All across New York state, municipalities had until April 1st to come up with a written plan aimed at eliminating structural racism and bias in policing, via public input, or risk losing state funding. D. Colin is a poet, actor, and visual artist living in Troy.
"The PRRC report issued by the mayor fails to recognize that here in Troy last June 11,000 people showed up in solidarity to demand that change, that change action and accountability. The governor's executive orders says whereas there is a long and painful history in New York state of discrimination and mistreatment of Black and African American citizens dating back to the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in America. The PRC report issued by the mayor makes no such acknowledgement."
The City Council Finance Committee recently approved hiring six new police officers, which the City Council could vote on Thursday night. Local activist attorney Colin Donnaruma says this comes in the face of closer scrutiny of overpolicing.
“ I was baffled, if not astounded by the proposal from the mayor to expand the Troy police department in the current political context we find ourselves in.”
Donnaruma rattled off a list of problems he says Troy PD has faced from having to disband its entire drug unit because of severe corruption to a lawsuit recently filed by one of its only officers of color for pervasive and systemic racism. He says Mayor Patrick Madden and the police are out of touch with the community.
“The mayor has attempted to justify the proposal by labeling it as community policing and emphasizing that these will be officers who are on the streets interacting with the public. And I'm excited to hear a lot tonight about the fact that there are serious community needs that need to be addressed and discussed, from affordable housing to public and mental health, to childcare, to education to access to healthy foods. These are important and critical community needs, none of which are furthered by having more armed police patrolling our neighborhoods.”
Earlier this year, Madden, a second-term Democrat, said that he'd like to continue the dialogue on police reform after the April 1 deadline.
"There needs to be an ongoing and organized dialogue among those in the criminal justice system, the mental health and substance abuse communities, and the community-at-large. Maybe others as well."
The mayor’s office and Troy Police did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
Instead of hiring more police officers, some of the virtual town hall participants say they would like to see funding invested in the community to foster public safety through organizing tenants and neighborhoods.