Advisory board to oversee police, fire in Utica
UTICA — The City of Utica has announced the creation of a Utica Civilian Public Safety Advisory Board, a group made up of seven city residents to oversee the operations of the police and fire departments, according to Mayor Robert Palmieri.
The board will have the power to audit both departments, which will involve soliciting a professional auditor to take a closer look at either department regarding certain issues, city officials said. The board will have full discretion to decide what issues and what aspects of each department need to be audited.
The review board can then make recommendations to the city administration in response to the audits.
Officials said the board will also serve as an outlet to pass on complaints to the fire and police departments, with a review of the findings on those complaints.
“A lot of people talk about police reform, but my administration takes action,” said Palmieri in a release. Along with his mayoral duties, Palmieri also serves as Utica’s public safety commissioner.
The Civilian Public Safety Advisory Board is born out of last year’s Public Safety Reform Committee, the mayor said. The committee was put together to outline a reform plan, as requested by the state, which called for the implementation of 14 specific reforms for the city’s police department.
The new advisory board is one of those proposed reforms. Creating the advisory board was a unanimous decision by the Utica Common Council, city officials noted.
The board will meet eight times a year and will hold two town hall meetings with citizens, officials said.
The board will also file an annual report, in which they can make recommendations for improvements to the police and fire departments.
The advisory board is comprised of seven civilian members; two appointed by the mayor, two appointed by the Common Council, one appointed by the NAACP, and two nominated by non-profits in the city.
Officials said there are no specific qualifications for membership, other than being nominated, and being city residents.
Members of the initial board are:
Monalisa Fermin, a resident of Cornhill. Officials said Fermin is a mother who has been active in bringing the police department and community together. She has worked on the Bridge the Gap program, and helped to launch a police athletic league. Fermin was nominated by the Common Council.
John Ciccarelli was nominated by the Common Council.
Jim Winston is a retired Utica police officer who grew up in Washington Courts and patrolled the Cornhill district. He is active in his church and volunteers for Harvest on the Hill. Winston was nominated by the mayor.
Tiffanie Davis is a mother and lifelong resident of Utica, with a big family. She was part of the Collective Impact Network group that helped develop ways to invest funds in Cornhill. Davis was nominated by the mayor.
Sonia Martinez is the head of the Mohawk Valley Latino Association. She serves on the city’s Access and Inclusion Committee, and was part of the Oneida County police reform advisory committee. Martinez was nominated by the NAACP.
Darlene Mack-Brown works for Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency (MVCAA), which works to address poverty and justice issues in Utica. MVCAA nominated her to the board.
Dzevad Racic works in refugee resettlement for The Center, and is a refugee himself. Racic was nominated to the board by The Center.
The Utica Civilian Public Safety Advisory Board will hold its first meeting on Thursday, July 28, at Utica City Hall.
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