May 02, 2021

Town Hall Sentiment: We need community investment, not more cops

Dan Levy for WNYT

TROY – Social justice activists are fighting back in the Collar City. Later this week, the Troy City Council is expected to vote to spend a quarter of a million dollars to increase the size of the city police department by six officers.

On Sunday night, activists held a Zoom town hall meeting at which they sent a message to city officials, their believe the money would be better spent some place else.

The city’s plan to increase the size of the police force by six officers is part of the response to Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 23, issued last June, requiring municipalities to examine the policies and procedures of their police department and make recommendations for future changes to address police violence, biased policing, and systemic racism.

Fed up and frustrated doesn’t begin to describe sentiment that is running rampant through many Troy neighborhoods these days. Nineteen year old Diamond Owens makes no apologies for directing her comments at city police officers.

“If you feel unloved every day then I feel like I’m doing my job,” Owens stated, “Because I feel unloved every second of every minute of every hour because I don’t have the security to go outside of my house and check my mailbox.”

Colin Donnamura of the New York Civil Liberties Union said he was “baffled and astounded by Mayor Patrick Madden’s decision to expand the Troy Police Department in the current political context we find ourselves in.”

“By way of background, the Troy Police Department has consistently  been a source of complaints about constitutional violations about infringements of civil liberties,” Donnamura pointed out, “This is a department that just a few years ago had to disband its entire drug unit because of severe corruption.”

According to Jerry Ford of the Troy Coalition of Black Leaders, adding more police is tantamount to putting a band-aid on a bullet wound.

“We need solution-based responses to the things that we’re seeing,” Ford opines, “That means more programs to divert our young people from criminal behavior, and more programs that are going to attack poverty and get people a living wage.”

According to NAACP Troy Chapter President Renee Powell, to fix policing in the Collar City, it’ll require thinking outside the box.

“The NAACP’s position is calling on the United Nations to step up and classify the mistreatment of black and brown people in the United States –Troy is in the United States — by the police as human rights violations,” Powell asserts, “and then aggressively calling out the US government in the process and impose sanctions if necessary.

The city council is slated to vote on the Police Reform and Reinvestment Collaborative this coming Thursday night. If six officers were to be added, it would raise the Troy Police force to 137 officers.

Copyright 2021 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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