Saratoga Springs City Council approves police reform resolution, not all citizens are satisfied

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Saratoga Springs, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Saratoga Springs City Council passed a police reform plan late Wednesday night, just ahead of Thursday’s deadline under Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order. It was the third version of the resolution. While a majority of the recommendations passed, there are still some community members who are not happy with the final draft.

The recommendations were laid out by the Saratoga Springs Police Reform Task Force. The group, which was established back in August, includes the Police Chief, the City Attorney and eleven appointed community members including longtime resident Kristen Dart. “There are no drastic changes in what was passed and that’s what’s unfortunate. Even the four pieces that didn’t get passed as we proposed them to weren’t drastic changes they were small changes that were clear across the country,” said Dart.

The four rejected measures include banning no knock warrants, prohibiting the use of militarized vehicles and equipment including pepper bullets, a recommendation to divert seized assets from criminal charges to community service organizations, and a request for a Civilian Review Board.  “The community would have an appointed board that would have the opportunity to review any complaints and internal investigations and it’s actually a really innovative solution in that it would also set up a mediation process,” said Dart.

The Mayor and Commissioner of Public Safety were not available for comment, but according to a post on the city’s website, an Independent Advisory Committee will be created by June 1, 2021 to assist with implementation and feedback. It goes on to say that one of the committee’s first priorities will be to take another look at that specific recommendation for a Civilian Review Board adding “The scope of authority and responsibilities of such a board must be defined and then considered within the provisions of the City’s Charter before it can be established.” 

“The community isn’t going to give up on making ourselves better. So much of this has been painted as the Task Force versus the Police Department or the community versus the Police Department. This is an opportunity for our Police Department to get better and therefore our community to get better,” said Dart.

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