KINGSTON – The grassroots group Rise Up Kingston rallied for support of their police accountability legislation, Tuesday evening, following the stifling of the legislation’s passing in-full in the city government.
The legislation seeks to reform the way the city’s citizen police commission is run, focusing on including various training on police procedure, regulations, unconscious bias, mental health awareness, and crisis intervention, making the complaint process more accessible and transparent, as well as more transparency in police commissioner selection.
This was prompted by Rise Up Kingston saying it received a number of reports of “egregious behavior and misconduct” on behalf of the Kingston Police Department.
Common Council President Andrea Shaut created a special policing committee in January just to review this legislation. However, the review has been happening concurrently with the city negotiating with the police union for contract renewal, where stipulations presented by the union were in direct conflict with parts of the legislation.
Communication and Development Coordinator for Rise Up Kingston Stephanie Alinsug said they received confirmation from the New York Civil Liberties Union that there should be no issue with the legislation as it exists; but, regardless still needs public support to move forward.
“Where we are right now is in a stalemate between the city’s third-party lawyer and us. It’s our word against theirs right now,” said Alinsug. “The thing that we actually really need is for as many people in the community to show up to the Laws and Rules Committee meetings, to the Common Council, any city meeting and continue to say, ‘We want police accountability,” she said.
Alderwoman Rita Worthington, who chairs the special policing committee, said in order to keep from stalling a piece of legislation the city believes in, they will take it piece-by-piece according to what can be passed and implemented immediately. So far, that has been for additional police commission training. “This is what we’re trying to implement now because we can do that as a council, so we’re going to send this to finance,” said Worthington. “The issue with it is: the cost of it- somebody has to pay for it. We’re for it. We believe in it. We think it should be done. We’re hoping that once we send it to finance, finance will approve it,” she said.
According to Worthington, if it is cleared by the Finance Committee, that portion of the legislation should be able to be implemented. As of now, the rest of the legislation remains in Laws and Rules.