City’s police reform efforts continue

Watertown police cruiser. Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Residents will have two chances to share their concerns and ideas about how the city should consider police reform for the Watertown Police Department.

The first virtual listening session will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, followed by another one at the same time Feb. 17.

The city will use the listening sessions to see what people think about police reform, City Manager Kenneth A. Mix said.

“It’s for us to listen,” he said.

To be involved in the listening sessions, residents must register with the city before they are held.

The city has provided the list of questions on its website www.watertown-ny.gov under press releases. If the public has any other questions about police reform, they can email the city at policereform@watertown-ny.gov.

Use this link to register for the meetings: wdt.me/W5ewGm.

The city will also continue to take input by email at policereform@watertown-ny.gov.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has required communities to put together a Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Plan through an executive order. The plan must answer a series of questions on what the police reform plan should include.

The city is also meeting with “stakeholders,” a group which includes Police Chief Charles P. Donoghue, Capt. Michael J. LaBarge, Jefferson County District Attorney Kristyna S. Mills and the public defenders’ office, to discuss the issue. One meeting was held, with another one scheduled with that group.

Councilwomen Lisa A. Ruggiero and Sarah V. Compo represent City Council. Jefferson Community College President Ty A. Stone and the Rev. Jeff Smith of the First Baptist Church are also involved in the effort.

Unlike many communities in the state, the city’s police reform efforts will not include a formal committee with residents.

“Different communities are doing it different ways,” Mr. Mix said.

Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith insisted the city doesn’t have to make sweeping changes to the police department through police reform. The police department is an accredited police department, so it has made changes right along through that affiliation, he said.

The city must have the plan in place by April 1. The city hopes to have a draft plan completed by March 1. It will be the responsibility of Mr. Mix to put together Watertown’s police reform plan.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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