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Walsh says he'll hire 25-30 new Syracuse police officers, conduct national search for police chief

Tom Magnarelli
Ben Walsh with Sharon Owens.

Syracuse Mayor-elect Ben Walsh said he will authorize a new class of 25-30 police officers this spring. Walsh also announced he is holding a nationwide search for the city’s next police chief.

Walsh said during the last city budget, the Syracuse Common Council funded 480 police officers. He said that is about 60 officers more than the current force.

“This would take a step towards filling all of those positions," Walsh said. "We’re sensitive to the budget issues. We’re going to look very closely as to whether or not we’re in a position to authorize a subsequent class, understanding it is our desire to get more officers on the streets.”

Walsh said the new class should also be diverse and reflective of Syracuse.

The city’s current police chief, Frank Fowler, will stay on next year as a national search to find his replacement is underway. Walsh said he wants the best person for the job, whether that person comes from inside or outside the Syracuse Police Department.

“By conducting a national search, it allows us to cast a wide net to make sure we’re bringing on the best person," Walsh said. "If that person ends up being right here from Syracuse or right within the police department that’s fine, but we don’t want to limit our options.”

Sharon Owens of the Southwest Community Center, who was recently hired on as Walsh’s chief of staff, said the next police chief has to make the community and its residents, partners with the police force.

"Whenever there is an imbalance there, it's not going to work to its true efficiency," Owens said. "That individual definitely would need to have a clear understanding of that community policing or a new, innovative methodology for policing, engaging community."

Walsh said he is also bringing on three new deputy chiefs to oversee the community policing, uniform and investigations bureaus.

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.