Oneonta, NY - The Oneonta Mayor and Chief of Police are proposing a community advisory board to the police department.
“It’s good that people are speaking up,” said Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig. “It’s good that we have an opportunity to recognize that while we’ve come a long way, while we have a community that does value diversity, we’re not perfect. This was a good time for introspection by all communities.”
In the coming weeks, Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig will be asking the Common Council to approve the creation of a Community Advisory Board to the Police Department.
“We've heard people share about their experiences right here in the city of Oneonta. Things that sometimes are hard to hear. But it's a reminder that we all need that there's no community that is free from racism,” said Herzig.
From training to investigation procedures, this Board will be tasked with working with the Chief and reviewing current police operating practices and implement necessary improvements so that there are adequate safeguards against bias and unequal treatment.
“The police department does work closely with the community. The Chief, Lieutenant, and officers have regular meetings with neighborhood representatives, they have regular meetings with the NAACP, they have regular meetings with our student groups…they do listen,” said Herzig. “They do exercise community policing. I am proud of the job that our police department does. But, that said, we can never just rest on our laurels and feel that we’re perfect. Any community that does that is going to slip backwards.”
Herzig says that transparency and diversity is key as they develop the board.
“We're going to put together a formula for membership to the board that is going to a sure that our minority population people of color are well represented. This is not going to be a government group this is going to be people that are representative of the population here in the city.”
Police Chief Douglas Brenner agrees that they can only do better by taking a hard look at their practices.
We are an accredited agency,” said Chief Brenner. “Our policies are reviewed frequently and we are always looking for improvements. We can always do better and if the public would like to see our policies and would like to comment and would like to have an input on them we are very open to that.”
Chief Brenner says communication between concerned community members and the department will ultimately help better protect and serve the community.