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Oneonta Common Council approves proposed police reform plan

On Thursday night, the Oneonta Common Council held a public hearing to discuss the adoption of the Community Advisory Board’s “City of Oneonta Police Department Reform and Reinvention Collaborative” plan.

Posted: Apr 1, 2021 11:44 PM

Oneonta, N.Y. - After hearing from a handful of Oneonta residents, the Common Council unanimously passed the proposed adoption of the plan.

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig said that this process has been community driven.

When the Advisory Board was first created in the fall of 2020, it split up into sub-committees to focus on specific issues. In this public hearing, some members of the community expressed that the report doesn't accurately reflect the desires of the committees.

Members of the public said they want the subcommittees to work more closely before finalizing the plan.

“Regardless of how you vote on this particular report, I urge you all to consider reconvening the Community Advisory Board and allowing the sub-committees to truly work together to provide recommendations we can all be proud of,” said Bridget Stith, Oneonta resident. “While there are good recommendations in this report, I’m also disappointed to see that at times we squandered our opportunity for meaningful change and chose to ignore Oneonta’s history of systemic racism.”

“The clock has run out we have to send something to Albany today, tomorrow, very soon. I also think we can do more. This committee process has been incredibly constructive, it was healthy. We can pick this back up and we can keep going and we have more content ready to go,” said Daniel Dreier, Oneonta resident.

A timeline is required for a detailed implementation. The board needs to conduct more research and hear from legal experts on what can be done given current state laws, bargaining agreements, etc. The board agreed to push back the target date to implement the finalized plan to June 1.

All recommendations have been accepted, their reform plan has been adopted and will be sent to Albany.

“I think this is a significant step forward,” said Mayor Herzig. “There's still a lot of work to do. Any plan even once created is going to be a living document because we live in a changing world. We don't expect anything to be carved in stone forever.”

Following the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis in 2020, Governor Cuomo signed a mandate that all local governments state-wide must take initiative to create a policy reform plan for their local police department including honest dialogue, collaboration and inclusion.

April 1 was the deadline for a draft plan to be submitted to and adopted by the city’s Common Council.

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