Why Schenectady’s sole councilmember voted ‘no’ on police reform

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SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In a four to one vote, Marion Porterfield was the only Schenectady City Councilperson to dissent against the municipalities police reform agenda. Her “no” vote stuck out as she’s the only African American on city council.

“I did not feel comfortable and in good conscience voting yes on that legislation,” Porterfield said.

The councilwoman said two things sparked her opposition: allowing an officer to place their knee to a suspect’s head and the use of police force, also known as “response to resistance,” sections of the agenda.

“We could have done more and really focused on the use of force and done something about it and put something in the first piece of legislation that we’re sending to the governor’s office,” Porterfield said.

The placement of an officer’s knee to the head to control the individual is prohibited unless deadly physical force is authorized.

“She’s welcome to her opinion as we all are,” said Councilman John Polimeni.

Polimeni doesn’t recall some the issues brought up by Porterfield during taskforce meetings. Moving forward the councilman said an oversight committee has the ability to further address concerns.

“Should there be further concerns, there’s an avenue to communicate with the police department to try to address those issues,” Polimeni said.

“We’re not going to accept breadcrumbs that were thrown at us,” said Co-founder of All of US Jamaica Miles.

Miles said the group will continue to address what they feel has been missed by this legislation.

“We will call for them to make their voices heard the same way we did last year, but it’s going to be a lot louder,” Miles said.

NEWS10ABC reached out to the mayor for comment. He declined an interview until the reform is officially filed.

“I think we could have done more. Why when it comes to communities of color must we always wait for the next time? Why could that not be a part of this legislation? And sometimes late never comes,” Porterfield said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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