Third person resigns from Potsdam’s police reform committee

Third person resigns from Potsdam Police Reform Committee

POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWNY) - A third Potsdam police reform committee member has resigned. That’s prompting a call to go “back to basics” from some of the members left.

Potsdam’s police reform committee has hit “pause.” A one-week delay in meeting comes after three members resigned. Some think the committee needs to better answer Governor Andrew Cuomo’s call to end systemic racism in policing.

“He’s asking us to look at the history of the police and re-imagine, reinvent the police department. It’s a huge call and it’s not something that we can just snap our fingers and fix,” said Maggie McKenna, Potsdam police reform committee member.

Far from it. At its last meeting, the committee heard a lot from members Jennifer Baxtron and John Youngblood.

“We need to get right back to where we were supposed to be: dealing with this police department and how it deals with race and racism – and dealing with this issue in this area right here,” said Youngblood.

Youngblood and Baxtron promptly resigned after the meeting.

“I just don’t have time to sit in a room and talk with people who look at me and basically say, ‘There is not problem,’” said Baxtron, Black Lives Matter Potsdam founder.

Committee coordinator Greg Thompson confirms a third member, Scott Schulte, has resigned. He says the committee is endeavoring to listen to and work with all members.

In early June, Black Lives Matter of Potsdam led a march of hundreds through the streets. It’s not difficult to draw a direct line from that protest to the controversy now enveloping Potsdam’s police reform committee.

A number of people now serving on the police reform committee marched that day. But now translating that activism into policy is proving difficult.

“It’s something we all have to reflect on. I think we really have to do work. We have to educate ourselves,” said McKenna.

McKenna said she also considered resigning but is remaining on the committee. Its next meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, January 13.

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