Watertown narrows down police reform in second listening session

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 7:30 AM EST
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Wednesday night, the second of two public listening sessions in Watertown kicked off virtually.

The topic of conversation: police reform.

City manager Ken Mix and the city’s stakeholders group took public comments from last week’s meeting and compiled them into four categories: procedural justice and community relations, staffing, accountability, and crisis intervention.

“I’ve heard we should engage the youth more, engage with people of color in a better way, get implicit biases training for police officers, do more diversity training,” Mix said.

Other things the public has asked about are officer mental health, improving diversity in the police force, and implementing body and car cameras.

Those cameras are something the city says it’s worked to get in the past, but for financial reasons it has been unable to do so.

“It’s 2021, and it’s now time to have diversity, transparency for the upstate Watertown police department,” one speaker said.

The public had the chance to share their thoughts. Some shared things they don’t want to see included in the city’s police reform plan.

“That was just this divisive rhetoric about white supremacy, and diversity and sensitivity training,” another participant said. “I would like to see stats that show that we have a big white supremacists, KKK problem in Watertown and as for the diversity and sensitivity training, it’s pretty much just white people were called racist oppressors and I just think that’s insulting to our police.”

With all public comments considered, Mix says the city hopes to have a draft of its police reform plan by the first week of March.

It will then be available for public review and comment before the final draft is sent to the state by April 1.

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