In Utica, Palmieri launches proposals on police reform, gun violence

Mayor seeks to add five more officers to UPD

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UTICA — Mayor Robert M. Palmieri has announced two legislative proposals to promote public safety; one of which would implement a major item of police reform and the other combats gun violence, according to an announcement Thursday from his office.

Last year, Palmieri convened an Advisory Committee
consisting of community leaders, residents, law enforcement and local officials to explore ways for Utica Police Department to continue to better serve residents, the announcement said.

After extensive discussions, the committee unveiled its Police Reform Report which called for the implementation of 14 specific reforms that fell under the city’s jurisdiction, including the establishment of a Crisis Intervention Team, implementation of implicit bias training, installation of cameras in specific public areas, a plan to recruit more minority youth to careers in public safety and a plan to increase transparency of resident complaints, among others.

To date, the Administration, in coordination with the UPD and community partners, has implemented nine of these reforms, Palmieri said. One of biggest reforms the Committee recommended was the establishment of a Citizen Public Safety Advisory Board.

In support of the committee’s recommendation, the Administration has formally submitted legislation establishing this board to the Common Council for its consideration.

The remaining reform items will be encompassed in the mayor’s upcoming budget proposal next month, Palmieri said, adding that it is the city’s goal that all of the committee’s recommended reforms be completed by the end of the budget process in March.

In addition to the committee’s recommendations, the mayor said he recognized the importance of combating gun violence and committed funds through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for this purpose. As such, the mayor is proposing to utilize ARPA funds to increase UPD’s complement by five police officers to specifically address gun violence, the mayor’s announcement said.

Any increase or change to the complement would need to be approved by the Common Council.

Furthermore, the city recently learned it was approved to join the state’s network of SNUG street outreach programs to provide skills-based job
readiness, as well as work- placement training for at-risk youth.

The city has been working with non-profit partners to join the SNUG network and will share more details about how our local program will be administered in the near future, Palmieri added.

These actions, reforms and proposals, Palmieri said, “go above and beyond the great work UPD has done over the past decade to build relationships with the community.”

“As an accredited law enforcement agency through the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), UPD adheres to the highest standards of training and performance,” Palmieri said.

“A lot of people talk about police reform and gun violence, but not nearly as many take action,” Palmieri said.

“Last year, the Advisory Committee did an outstanding job and put forward comprehensive reforms to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the community,” he continued.

“The legislative items being proposed are steps in the right direction, and as an administration, our goal is to ensure all of the committee’s recommended reforms are implemented as quickly, and effectively, as possible,” the mayor said.

“I will continue to work with Chief Williams, as well as members of the Common Council as we strive to promote public safety, reduce gun violence and enhance the relationship between our residents and law enforcement,” the Utica mayor added.

Utica Police Chief Mark Williams said, “Gun violence has plagued cities all over the nation and statewide. Our youth’s access and availability to firearms is very troubling. To effectively address this problem, we need additional resources, mainly additional personnel. I am extremely proud of our police officers’ actions in helping keep our city safe, however there is more work to be done. Additionally, it is important to build relationships with community and forge partnerships to identify and support programs that successfully curb illegal possession and use of firearms.”

“I am glad of the work the city has done to improve community police relations,” said Councilman and Police Reform Advisory Committee Member Delvin Moody.

“This next step introduces important legislation that will allow for greater accountability and partnership between residents and public safety. I couldn’t be more proud to see the reform plan actually take shape in the city,” Moody added.

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