Following calls from protesters, the mayor of Troy is asking city residents to volunteer for a police oversight board.
Community members were outraged last month after learning city leaders did not immediately act following an internal report on a fatal police shooting three years ago.
At a September city council meeting, protesters accused the mayor of covering up the facts of the death of Edson Thevenin, a drunken driving suspect who was shot during a traffic stop by a city police officer.
Here’s Democratic city councilor TJ Kennedy speaking with Anastasia Robertson about the defunct Police Oversight Review Committee.
“If anyone wants to submit names for the police review board, we’ll accept them,” said Kennedy. “If you guys want to put policies in place that the police review board can work towards because it will be in place…”
“There’s only one problem with that,” said Robertson. “I’m not trying to be rude, there’s only one problem with that. The mayor has the final say on who sits on this police review board. I think that needs to be taken out of his hands considering how complicit how he is in all the things that are going on in this city.”
This week, Mayor Madden, a Democrat running for a second four-year term, announced the city is actively seeking candidates for the review board.
“We’re looking for people, for individuals who are interested in building strong police-community partnerships. We’re looking for people who will go through the training that we’ll put together, and take this seriously. They need to be objective and fair-minded people, not with a pre-disposition one way or the other.”
Renee Powell, President of the Troy Branch of the NAACP, has agreed to work with the city to develop duties and responsibilities of committee members, review candidates, and to develop training.
Powell, who contacted the mayor’s office in August, when the Times Union broke the story about the city’s handling of the Thevenin investigation, said it is time for action.
“If we don’t put things in place to bring the community and the administration together and have some sort of a medium in which they could communicate, I think the relationship between the community and administration will continue to erode.”
Republican City Council President Carmella Mantello said she was disappointed a review committee was not assembled four years ago, as is mandated by city code.
Mantello contends that if the board was in place at the time of the Thevenin shooting, the committee could have reviewed the police department’s internal report into the incident — avoiding a second review by an outside consultant commissioned by the city.
“And certainly they would have looked at this with an unbiased review, and possibly the outside review – the Ranalli report – might not have happened because the objective review committee would have been doing their job.”
Powell said it’s hard to say what would have happened had the board had been in place.
“The idea would have been that if the board were in place that there would have been more transparency about what transpired. But we don’t know. But going forward, I think it’s important that we have that board in place to create that transparency and to remove as much doubt as possible when situations like this occur.”
Madden said he believes effective public safety requires trust between the police department and the community, and that the PORC committee would help.
Applications for city residents interested in joining the Police Objective Review Committee must be submitted to the mayor’s office by the close of business on Friday, November 15th.
Applications can be sent to:
City of Troy
433 River Street, 5th floor
Troy, NY 12180
By email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Please include “Police Objective Review Committee” in the subject line)