Public outrage, scrutiny and legal troubles. Tthat's part of what the City of Syracuse has faced since video of police officers tasing a disabled man was broadcast last month. Now the Common Council is taking a closer look at the department's Taser policy. Sarah Blazonis reports.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It's been six years since the director of the state Civil Liberties Union's CNY Chapter started speaking up about the police department's Taser policy.
"When you don't have transparent policies, the public doesn't have the confidence that you will use the tools given to the police appropriately," said Barrie Gewanter.
Now, more people are getting involved in the conversation.
Members of the Common Council's Public Safety Committee heard from the administrator of the Citizen Review Board Monday. Some suggestions include spelling out when it's appropriate to use such force and what medical conditions make it dangerous to do so.
Councilor Khalid Bey proposed taking it a step further and introducing a yearly audit of Taser use.
"What I'm talking about here is the number of times Tasers are used and the circumstances surrounding Taser use so that we could determine as well, via the police policy, whether it was within the right boundaries," said Bey.
The committee heard from members of the public, but there was also a focus on those who weren't there. Members of the mayor's staff, corporation council and police personnel weren't able to attend.
"We welcome the council taking a look at this. It just wasn't the prudent thing to do in terms of putting the city at risk in the various lawsuits," said Mayoral Spokesman Timothy Carroll.
The president of the police union was on hand to answer questions. He says though they're not outlined in the department policy. Many of the suggested additions are already used.
"That's how we're trained. Nobody comes to work to use force. Nobody comes to work to shoot anybody. That's not what we want to do when we come to work," said PBA President Jeffrey Piedmont.
The public safety committee's chairman says the next steps are talking with police to learn more about what exactly happened in the Brad Hulett case and looking into refining the current Taser policy. One councilor also said he'd like to have a follow up meeting that included city administration and police officials to discuss the policy in general.