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Syracuse releases results of community's input into police chief search

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media File Photo
A public meeting in April at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse for the police chief search.

The city of Syracuse has released the results of the community’s input on what criteria they want from the next chief of police. Residents said they want the next chief to bring more transparency and public engagement.

The city held a series of community meetings earlier this year. More than 700 people filled out surveys. Results showed residents want a police chief with high standards, who will hold officers accountable and has a record of reducing violent, drug and gang-related crimes. Residents also want someone committed to community policing and improving relations. Former police chief and current Syracuse Councilor-at-Large Steven Thompson said retiring-Police Chief Frank Fowler and others have stressed the importance of officers meeting the people they serve.

“If you have the opportunity, get out of your car, talk to individuals, find out what’s going on," Thompson said. "That just translates to good relations.”

The survey also showed participants want a chief who has experience working with diverse communities and is efficient at controlling overtime and spending. The city is conducting a national search but will consider candidates from within the Syracuse Police Department with the goal of hiring a new police chief by the end of the year.

Common Council approves buying 17,000 street lights

The Syracuse Common Council approved the purchase of 17,000 street lights from National Grid for $38 million. The lights will be upgraded to LED lighting with sensors, public Wi-Fi and 4G/5G Smart Poles. Councilor Joe Carni said the council  had a lot of questions and concerns when it was first proposed by Mayor Ben Walsh’s administration. But Carni said he thinks it was a good move for the city that will save money.

“And it helps bring us into the future in a cutting edge city, to be able to have WiFi in the city and to be able to get 4G and 5G going forward, which are going to be crucial for folks to be able to use their cell phones in our city," Carni said.   

Carni said they have been assured borrowing the money will not affect Syracuse’s bond rating. In addition to saving $3 million a year in maintenance and energy costs, the city could also make revenue by leasing the smart poles to cell phone providers.  

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.