Police reform advocates rallied outside of Troy police headquarters against a proposal before the city council that would transfer funding to hire six new officers.
In April, the Troy City Council’s Finance Committee in a 5 to 2 vote advanced a budget transfer for the hiring of six new police officers. The transfer now before the city council is intended to get new hires through the police academy and onto the beat six months earlier than if the spending waited until 2022.
But advocates, many of whom criticized the city’s state-mandated police reform process, say throwing more officers at the problem will not improve the lives of Black and brown residents or build trust between the police department and the people of Troy.
A group called The People’s Council of Troy recently formed in opposition to the final police reform plan submitted to the state just over a month ago. The group hosted a press conference outside of Troy Police headquarters Thursday, moderated by city resident Daquetta Jones.
“I feel that this system, our government, our city government, is trying to tire us out. And we’re not going to be tired out. We are going to consistently hold them accountable and we are only getting bigger,” said Jones.
Thursday’s speakers want Troy to divert funding from adding police to projects to address issues of poverty, nutrition, opportunities for youth and young people, housing and code enforcement, and keeping streets clean of trash.
Akiva Benbow is a Troy resident and activist with the group Troy 4 Black Lives. He says many Troy residents live in neighborhoods without supermarket.
“Like we don’t have a Price Chopper, a Save-A-Lot or anything like that so people could get food to nourish themselves. And then possibly, like, another one is…community centers. We need community centers with mentors that are from the community so our kids can like aspire to be a positive change in our communities,” said Benbow.
Thursday’s press conference came after a virtual town hall Sunday that included members of the Troy Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative unhappy with the final report.
The People’s Council of Troy says the PRRC report fails to acknowledge racial bias within the Troy police department. The group also says there’s lack of accountability by the state in reviewing and evaluating the report. And, the group says, the final report, developed over nine meetings between February and March, lacked or ignored community input and key recommendations.
Angela Beallor is with the organization Reimagine Troy…
“They did no outreach. So few people in Troy knew that this process was even going on. So they don’t want to hear our voices. It scares them. They don’t want that input,” said Beallor.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis almost one year ago, Troy was home to one of the largest Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the Capital Region. Last month, a smaller rally was held to mark the fifth anniversary of the death of Edson Thevenin, a Black man shot during a traffic stop. Thevenin, who was suspected of drunk driving, was killed by Sgt. Randall French, who was later cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury. A state attorney general’s report later faulted the department for the incident and the subsequent investigation.
French died in April 2020 of COVID-19. The city has remained quiet on Thevenin’s death as his family is still pursuing legal action.
Advocate Jessica Ashely of the Justice Center of Rensselaer County believes the community’s calls for accountability are going unheard.
“We’re not going anywhere. You can play your games. But we are not going anywhere. The city belongs to the people. And we are the voice of the people,” said Ashley.
Tonight’s regular Troy city council meeting begins at 7.