Public has chance to weigh in on Watertown police reform

WWNY Public has chance to weigh in on Watertown police reform

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Watertown’s police reform group is turning to the public to help shape its reform plan. Officials will be doing most of the listening in Wednesday night’s virtual public listening session.

Watertown’s police reform plan is in the works. That reform mandated by the state is set to be finished by April 1.

City leaders have formed a group to put the plan together. City Manager Ken Mix is a member and says it’s the public’s turn to weigh in on the police department.

“How they think it’s going. How they think it could be improved,” he said.

The city is virtually hosting what it calls a public listening session Wednesday at 7 p.m.

“The whole point is to listen to the public. We’re not going to be saying much. It’s just to gather anyone’s thoughts that wants to participate,” he said.

First Baptist Church Pastor Jeffrey Smith is another member of the city’s police reform group. His role is talking with the community to see how they feel about Watertown police.

“People in the community used to know the police officers’ names - that personal thing. I think a lot of the community wants to have a little bit more personal contact with our law enforcement,” he said.

Smith says diversity training and mental health training for police officers is another area of focus.

Anyone who wants to present his or her feedback can sign up for the session on the city’s website.

Smith says now is the time for people to make their voices heard.

“Be open and honest and just transparent and let us know exactly how you feel,” he said.

While both Mix and Smith say there’s always room for improvement, both are happy with the way the city’s police department conducts itself.

Another public listening session is scheduled for next week.

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