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Oneonta’s review board
gets hung up
on ‘use of force’ language

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA Members of the Community Advisory Board Review Council, which includes mayoral candidates Mark Drnek and Len Carson, discussed some of the language pertaining to the Community Advisory Board document on “best practices” for the Oneonta Police Department.

However, ultimately it was decided there would need to be another meeting in two weeks to further discuss what is being put in the final document.

The delay means the city will miss the self-imposed deadline for acting on the plan.

Most of the issues the CAB had with the document as it stands now were highly semantical including replacing the words “may” with “shall” when referring to certain practices.

The biggest issue discussed was the language about “use of force” procedures, which is a broad category that includes verbal commands as well as use of potentially deadly force.

Mayor Gary Herzig, although not part of the committee, was present at the meeting and suggested it look towards other communities who were having the same discussion and said the group should not try to “reinvent the wheel.”

Lt. Chris Witzenberg, the acting police chief, further illuminated the discussion with the broad nature of “use of force” definitions, and said that the “dynamics of human conflict and just arresting someone is a real eye opener for people.”

“I’ve seen too much to say we can put it in a tiny box,” Witzenberg said.

The committee agreed to meet again Tuesday, Aug. 10.

Other issues discussed include a document regarding the Community Police Board which would serve as a way of further addressing concerns about CPB outside the scope of the document. The CPB will be a standing advisory board which will allow citizens to express concerns about CPB.

CPB will meet quarterly, with investigations conducted through the city administrator and the personnel director. A member of the CPB will also be a part of the selection process of a police chief. Another duty will be to analyze data from traffic stops and arrests in order to better understand trends in demographic information, which they may share with colleges for further analysis.

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1 Comment

  1. “Most of the issues the CAB had with the document as it stands now were highly semantical including replacing the words “may” with “shall” when referring to certain practices.”

    “Shall” is mandatory, while “may” is discretionary. This is considered by “highly semantical” by ALLOtsego? Seriously? In ANY context, that is a considerable shift in practice in any policy or ordinance.

    Sheesh. This is not the first time that this service has confused “journalism” with whatever it believes it is doing here. Please do NOT renew my subscription to this on-line “newspaper.” Thanks. Steve

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