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Politics and Government

Syracuse police agenda items held by Council until Right to Know law introduced

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Tom Magnarelli
/
WRVO Public Media
Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner.

Several police items will not be on the agenda for Wednesday’s Syracuse Common Council meeting, because one councilor blocked them in protest for not having Right to Know legislation come out of committee. Right to Know is a law passed in New York City, which requires police to identify themselves to citizens during certain interactions, provide a business card and obtain and record consent to searches. The Right to Know legislation is being held to allow lawyers to weigh in.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh issued an executive order with 16 police reforms in June, including Right to Know. But some common councilors want to pass Right to Know into law to make it permanent, and not have it be enforced at the whims of any future mayors. At a committee meeting last week, Councilor Tim Rudd said he wasn’t going to vote on any police items until Right to Know is introduced. Councilor Chol Majok said they can’t rush it, and the council’s new lawyer has to look it over first. Rudd said that can all still be done after moving it out of committee.

“Sometimes you have to break the status quo to get people to realize something is happening that shouldn’t be happening, and the item should be moving forward,” Rudd said.

Rudd said Right to Know should be discussed by the full Council, but it has to pass committee first.

“There could be disagreement on how different councilors see it,” Rudd said. “There’s no reason to hold it within committee to have a smaller group work on the issue, it should just move forward.”

Rudd was able to block the police agenda items because some other councilors did not attend the committee meeting. 

Syracuse Police Chief Kent Buckner said he doesn’t have an issue with the Right to Know law.

“We certainly want to not stop doing business while we wait for some of these things to come down the rails,” Buckner said.

Police items like cultural diversity and implicit bias training, a uniform voucher program, and a veterinary contract for their K9 Unit, were all put on hold. Rudd said he thinks Right to Know could be on the next agenda, later in August.