SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A viral video of a forceful traffic arrest during a loud music investigation has ignited more than anger in Syracuse.
Syracuse residents feel like they are being ignored, said Twiggy Billue, president of the Syracuse chapter of the National Action Network. You can follow the rules and lodge complaints, she said, but officers are not held accountable.
Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner wants residents to know he’s listening.
Buckner spoke about community policing Saturday during NAN’s meeting at the Fountain of Life Church on South Avenue. The meeting came a day after the police department released the department’s updated use- of-force policy and announced internal investigators had finished reviewing the arrest of Shaolin Moore, whose May 31 arrest sparked anger and a protest in Syracuse.
Buckner and Mayor Ben Walsh plan to announce the results of the investigation Monday.
Billue said she and NAN are angry about Moore’s arrest. The video is upsetting, she said, and triggering for many people. And if the police department expects the community to help solve crimes, she said, the community needs change and the ability to trust officers.
But Billue urged the community work with the police department and Walsh’s administration.
“We must use this opportunity to unify, to agree to disagree and then move forward,” she said.
Buckner told the more than 20 people who attended the meeting that the investigation into Moore’s arrest would be discussed Monday. He then explained what the department is doing to try to improve the community’s trust in the police department.
Along with interacting more with teenagers and children in Syracuse, Buckner said, the department is aiming to be more transparent. Releasing the department’s use of force policies, body camera policy and traffic stop policy were the first step, he said.
“When you have the latitude to take liberty and life, you need to be scrutinized,” he said.
More documents will be made public when the department’s website is updated, Buckner said. And to make it less intimidating for residents to file complaints, Buckner said the department is also looking to move internal affairs from the Public Safety Building to another location in the city.
Buckner made three requests to the community: Be patient, stay resilient and help diversify the police department with new recruits.
“You know what I’m up against,” the chief said. “Don’t expect me to fix anything in six months that you’ve been watching for 30 years.”
At the end of his talk, those in the audience gave the chief a standing ovation.
Not all Syracuse activists are happy with the police chief.
On Friday, the Syracuse chapter of the NAACP released a statement accusing the city of ignoring the organization’s request to share evidence related to Moore’s arrest with the NAACP and other human rights organizations.
Linda Brown-Robinson, NAACP president, said her organization is suspicious of how the police department has acted since the controversial arrest — including the arrest of Yamil Osorio, the man who filmed Moore’s arrest.
“Mayor Walsh and Chief Buckner, we need to get this right,” Brown-Robinson said. “Let’s focus on what happened on May 31 and get to the bottom of why the Syracuse police engaged in a violent takedown of a young black male for what appears to be a minor traffic violation.”