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Thursday, Apr 01, 2021 at 7:25 pm

SPD Changes their Crisis Call Protocols

By Benjamin Schiller

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Yesterday, the Syracuse University Law School held a virtual panel with those exploring police reform in Onondaga County. Topics included police-use-of-force policies, police-community relations, and alternatives to arresting individuals. The main conversation during the 90-minute zoom call focused on diversity issues within the Syracuse Police Department and the local community. 

“The city’s document in the reform report we put forward, there’s a small change that is taking place that we think is monumental,” said Syracuse Police Department Chief Kenton Buckner. 

Syracuse Police Department Chief Kenton Buckner says it is time for his police force to address its diversity issues. 

“We have racial issues within the police department. We are a microcosm of society. There are issues that our black officers feel of working a predominately write workforce that even some of our black citizens feel,” said Buckner. 

The department is reporting that 92% of their officers are white, and 88% of their officers are men. Local lawmaker Vernon Williams Jr. thinks it’s time for change 

“Within the police reform, hiding the train of racial biases I think is very important. I think that we should be deliberate in trying to diversity them – typically I am talking about the sheriff’s department – and trying to diversify them and trying to train them about racial biases,” said Onondaga County legislator Vernon Williams Jr. 

Now, it’s been a year since a black man named Daniel Prude was killed in police custody in a crisis call, Buckner says that his department now works with a private organization to assist in mental health-related calls. 

“I see police stepping back to either secondary or co-responder with these kinds of person in crisis calls because we think that many of these calls don’t require a badge and a gun to be the initial contact with the individual who is in crisis,” added Buckner. 

Chief Buckner reiterated that this is the starting point in creating change in the City of Syracuse community. He says that it can only go up from here.