County To Act Tomorrow On Its Findings
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – With City Hall expecting to miss its deadline on submitting its review of the OPD to Albany, Common Council is planning a public hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 1, to allow input into the recommendations.
In the meantime, the city’s Community Advisory Board will meet Tuesday, March 30, in an attempt to finalize its recommendations. “Hopefully, by the end of that meeting, (the CAB) will have agreed upon a draft, which will then be made public” in advance of the hearing two days later, Mayor Gary Herzig said. The mayor anticipates the report will be in Albany by April 20.
The Village of Cooperstown approved its CAB review at the end of February, and the county Board of Representatives is meeting at 9 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday, March 25), to finalize its report in time to meet Governor Cuomo’s deadline.
Last June 11, in response to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, the governor ordered all entities in the state with police departments to review their policies and procedures.
“We lost a little ground,” Herzig said, when Police Chief Doug Brenner, who has been working with the CAB, announced his retirement in January, and the mayor wanted to ensure Lt. Chris Witzenburg, the interim chief, was fully brought up to date on the discussions.
“This must be a collaborative effort between all parties, including Oneonta police,” said Herzig.
The city’s committee is chaired by Biama Charles, Hartwick College’s director of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging, and includes the NAACP’s John Adams, Shannon McHugh of the city’s Commission on Community Relations & Human Rights, Common Council member Luke Murphy, City Personnel Director Katie Böttger, Bryce Wooden, Stacy Zuniga and Robert Compton from SUNY Oneonta, and Paul Konye from Hartwick College.
“We’ve done things differently from surrounding communities,” Herzig said. “Our (CAB) took it upon themselves to make this project as inclusive as possible for the people of the city. They created committees, and opened the committees to anyone who want to be part of them.
“I applaud them for that. We have a wide variety of ideas. The Board is now seeking to see which ones they can support.”