ONEONTA – SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College students and faculty, as well as representatives from the NAACP, Common Council and City Hall will be tasked with reviewing police policies and procedures as part of Mayor Gary Herzig’s proposed Community Advisory Board to the Oneonta Police Department, Herzig announced during a meeting of the Planning Commission this evening.
“Our policies have been approved by the state as part of our accreditation,” he said. “But they’ve never been reviewed by the people of the city.”
The review board grew out of concerns voiced by citizens who shared their experience with Oneonta Police, including a black family being held at gunpoint and a student reporting being berated by police after a man who threatened to lynch them, at protests held across the county in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis.
“I want this to be a roundtable discussion,” said Police Chief Doug Brenner. “I want people to talk openly and freely, to explain where policies come from and where they can go in the future.”
Of the board, Herzig said, at least 50 percent of them will be people of color. The members will be appointed by the mayor, but must be approved by the Common Council.
“It’s a good exercise in being transparent,” said Brenner. “Our department is up-to-date, but there are always things that can be looked at and improved.”