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Syracuse Common Council passes police-community dialogue

Tom Magnarelli
Councilor Khalid Bey (right) at a Syracuse Common Council meeting on Monday.

The Syracuse Common Council unanimously passed funding for a police-community dialogue project organized by InterFaith Works of Central New York. Police officers and community volunteer facilitators will hold dialogue circles with city residents. The goal of the dialogues is to strengthen understanding between residents and police.

The funding of $30,000 was initially objected by Councilor Khalid Bey and the measure was held. Bey told the police department and InterFaith Works that he was skeptical these dialogues were improving police relations with city residents.

Bey said he thought funding the program was a redundancy since he said the purpose of the Citizens Review Board is to smooth community-police relationships. He also questioned if the program was talking to all the right city residents. 

Since then, Bey says he has talked with the police department and InterFaith Works about making changes to the program.

"The chiefs feel comfortable about it, so the fact that they find benefit here has a lot of weight and the fact that InterFaith has expressed their willingness to add people who have a more direct connection to people affected does a lot," Bey said. "So I think the potential for progress exists now where it was questionable before. We're talking about ensuring that we get something back, something tangible. Tangible means that we actually see an improvement in relations, not numbers on paper." 

Bey said he wants more voices from the Southwest and Faith Hope community centers on the Syracuse’s south side brought into the discussions.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.