County & City Police Reforms
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city is targeting an April 1 deadline to comply with an Executive Order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo stating that municipalities across the state adopt local plans for police department reform. Two special meetings of the City Council – to take place March 23 and March 31 - have been scheduled to review and approve recommendations for Saratoga Springs police reform.
Last June, in the aftermath of the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minnesota and subsequent protests across the nation demanding change and accountability among the law enforcement community, Cuomo directed a comprehensive review of existing police force deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices be conducted, and plans for reform adopted by local municipalities by April 1, 2021 to be eligible for future state funding.
Last week, the results of a survey used by them to assist in finalizing their recommendations to the Saratoga Springs City Council was posted online. The 97-page report may be read at: saratoga-springs.org.
On March 5, the 13-member Saratoga Springs Police Task Force released its 108-page report: Reinvention Plan: Toward a Community Centered Justice Initiative.
“It contains more than 50 recommendations intended to improve the policies and practices of the Saratoga Springs police Department,” city attorney Vincent DeLeonardis explained to the council during its meeting on March 16. “It is now up to the Council to review and deliberate on the proposed recommendations and determine which of those recommendations will be implemented – and how.”
A draft of the report may be viewed on the city website at: saratoga-springs.org.
“This is a big first step that we’re taking here, but it has to go on. We can’t possibly reform everything in seven months,” city Mayor Meg Kelly said, regarding the amount of time which the Task Force was granted to conduct their review – in between the time of Gov. Cuomo’s order and the city’ s adoption deadline.
“We have to have a plan moving forward and I think that’s what we’re doing with this resolution. We’re going to continue working with the Commissioner of Public Safety (Robin Dalton) and working with the chiefs to continue on the reform,” she said. “We have to submit something April 1 and then we can continue to work through all these changes. Police reform has to continue after April 1, it doesn’t end.”
Two special meetings of the City Council were scheduled to specifically review the task force recommendations for police reform. Those meetings will take place 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 23 and 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 31. The meetings will be live streamed via Zoom and on the city’s website, and public comment will be allowed at both meetings.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Public Safety Department is comprised of a full-time administrative office staff, a Police Department, Fire Department, Code Enforcement Division, Central Dispatch, Traffic Maintenance, Animal Control Officers and a Health Officer. There are approximately 161 full-time and 11 part-time employees. The part-time employees work as school crossing guards, vehicle traffic controllers, part time cleaners, part time clerk and summer laborers at the traffic garage.
• The Fire Department operates out of two fire stations and serves the City of Saratoga Springs, which encompasses 29.07 square miles of residential, commercial, and agricultural properties and parks.
• Fire Department 2020: The Saratoga Springs Fire Department responded to 4868 calls for service, which represents a 7.38% decrease overall from 2019. Specifically, there were 85 calls for service regarding fires – the highest number of fire responses since 2017.
• Ambulance 2020: 3,454 Emergency medical calls, a daily average of 9.46, and 2,269 transports.
• The Police department currently employs 72 sworn law enforcement officers. Over the past five years, averaged approximately 30,500 calls for service, 1,290 arrests, and 28.33 incidents involving uses of force per year.
• Police Department 2020: 30,880 calls for service. The Investigations Unit assisted in 39 missing person cases in 2020, and officers deployed Narcan on 16 separate calls for service.