Officials: City’s required police reform plan moving forward

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First Ward Councilman John M. Sparace, chair of the Public Safety Committee, reported that he met with Police Chief Kevin C. Beach and Public Safety Commissioner Frank Retrosi Jr. to go over the city’s public safety reform and reinvention plan. Fire Chief Thomas M. Iacovissi was unable to attend. Sparace said Chief Beach stated he has been working with his committee and others involved, and will soon present the more than 100-page document to the Common Council.

Once the document is reviewed by council members, there must also be ample time for the public to have access to and view the document, as well as host a public session.

Part of Chief Beach’s initiative was to look at getting body cameras for police officers, Sparace said.

“I’ve talked with the committee and they have been working for several months now, and we met with the NAACP — everyone is wholeheartedly for it because it’s great for the public and the police department too,” said Sparace. “One major hurdle will be funding. We can purchase” the cameras, “but then there’s upkeep and maintenance of a database, which gets pricey. A major hurdle will be trying to find funding for the body cameras, and we plan to meet with the fire chief as well.”

Common Council President Stephanie Viscelli asked about the time frame for when the proposal will be coming out, because Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive order indicated that as part of the state Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, plans must be submitted by April.

“We asked the chief when he would release the report, and he said by Feb. 1 he would have it to us and other groups to get additional feedback on it,” responded Seventh Ward Councilor A. Robert Tracy. “Whatever the report says, our approval is part of the process before it’s submitted to the state. The hopes are to have it by the first meeting in March, which is well before the April 1 deadline.”

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