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Cornhill Councilman weighs in on race relations with PD after viral video

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - As a member of both the black community and city government, Utica City Councilman Jerome McKinsey has a stake on both sides of the racial rift created by a viral video from a Utica Police Department dashcam, which shows an officer place a baggie from his pocket into the vehicle of a black driver he'd just pulled over for running a stop sign.

The Utica Phoenix weekly newspaper posted a one minute, 40-second segment of the video along with a print article on its website on December 30.

Since then, other media outlets, including WKTV, posted the entire 25+ minute traffic stop video, which shows the officer's empty hand pulling a baggie from the driver's jacket pocket earlier in the video. That revelation threatened to further widen the chasm between law enforcement and the black community.

"Anything that creates negative fallout creates a setback and because so many sides of this argument became offended and upset, it is a setback. It really is," says McKinsey.

Councilman McKinsey says he has seen most of the video. He says that regardless of what the video actually shows, people will see what they want to see.

"If I'm a police officer I'm going to say, 'that's protocol, he's carrying an empty bag in his pocket and that's protocol' but if I don't like the cops, I'm going to say, 'hey, he's pulling drugs out of his pocket and planting them in the car ' and at the point it becomes conjecture, you really have to back off," says McKinsey.

McKinsey is grateful for the opportunity to address racial issues and wounds that have never really closed. He's not exactly sure how to do that, but says that letting the wounds fester is not an option.

"We have to go, have a huddle, come back to the line of scrimmage, plan on moving forward," McKinsey said. "So, what I would do is talk to everybody in my associate circle and say, 'hey, regardless of how painful it is, we've got to move forward. We have to figure out how we're going to heal'".

The Utica Phoenix article misidentified officers in the video. The Utica Police union has said that those members are consulting with attorneys who specialize in defamation. Publisher Cassandra Harris-Lockwood is offering mediation as an alternative. Police PBA President Dominick Nitti says that's up to the officers whose lives were impacted and the chief of police. He says the union will back them 100%.

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