Utica, N.Y. - Six local colleges are coming together to try to improve the criminal justice system when it comes to racial equality.
The six colleges include Utica College, SUNY POLY, MVCC, Herkimer College, Hamilton College and the Pratt MWP College of Art and Design at Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica where a presentation about the new partnership was held on Wednesday.
They are now all part of what is called the College-Community Partnership for Racial Justice Reform.
The group was formed by the colleges, in collaboration with the Frontiers Club of the Mohawk Valley, the United Way of the Mohawk Valley and the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties.
After the George Floyd incident in Minnesota and subsequent outrage across the country over what happened, Governor Cuomo mandated that each municipality in New York State that has a police department come up with a detailed reform plan and submit it to the state by April 1st of next year.
The goal of this new group is is to gather information to help the local communities and police departments come up with their plan.
Hamilton College Associate Professor of Government Gbemende Johnson says this is truly a partnership with the local colleges and the many communities they are in, "We are not necessarily here to say oh this is the best way to do things, we need to have the public speak, the people who live here say what their concerns are, what they would like to see. We're just trying to assist in that effort by giving them multiple venues."
The College-Community Partnership for Racial Justice Reform will help local communities gather information for their final reform plan to be submitted to the state in four ways.
First, Hamilton College's Levitt Center for Public Affairs will fund a survey performed by Zogby Analytics to get local opinions about law enforcement and racial justice.
Second, the United Way's 211 system will be used to deploy the same survey so that anyone with a text capable phone will be able to have their voice heard.
Third, an eight part Lecture/Webinar/Q&A series that will be delivered by staff at each of the six colleges in the consortium.
Finally, the group will contact each of the 24 police agencies in Oneida and Herkimer counties to open discussion about how all of this information gathered can be used to help in their reform.
Those webinars begin a week from today.
If you would like more information on how to take the survey or how to register for one or more of the upcoming webinars, just head to community4justice.org