As per Governor Cuomo's Cuomo's executive order, the city of Utica has formed a police reform advisory committee. The 18-member group consists of police officers, the mayor, and stakeholders. Among them, a young city councilman who went away to school, in Rochester, then came home to serve.
"We're looking at use of force, we're looking at hiring processes, we're looking at community policing, how do we do trust building in all of those aspects," says Councilman and Committee member, Delvin Moody. "I was actually pleased by all of the training that happens with the police department. There's a lot of training."
With Councilman Moody on the committee is Director of City Initiatives, Marques Phillips. Phillips not only wants to talk about diversity, inclusion and transparency...he wants to tackle the less tangible but potentially equally-damaging cynicism.
"You have to be willing to let people try to be better. You can't come out against something before you know what it is and you can't be so skeptical about our ability to make a difference that you don't even try," says Phillips.
There are some who believe police officers don't belong on a police reform advisory committee. Larry Tanoury, Jr. , is a lifelong Utican who moved to neighboring Whitesboro last year. He formerly represented the inner city on the Oneida County Legislature.
"You don't have a police reform committee with three police officers, the public safety commissioner, the public safety commissioner's chief of staff....these are people that cannot, even if they're well intentioned, cannot give an unbiased opinion or speak out strongly against the very system that we're supposed to be reforming," says Tanoury.
Moody says he understand that sentiment exists.
"I think their presence at the output may be seen as them leading their own reform, really, it's them providing information to the committee members as to current policy and procedures that we will eventually be changing," said Councilman Moody.
Phillips said excluding police wasn't an option. But even if it was, he feels their input is relevant and necessary.
"The governor tasked very specific people that need to be on the committee and police are among them," says Phillips. "If they're gonna be part of the solution, they're gonna need to be at the table."
The committee has been meeting bi-weekly. In October, the public will be invited to meetings to give their input. They have to outline a reform plan by April 1st.