Press Release Nov 23

Troy DSA, in consultation with community partners, releases a ten-point plan to divest from policing and reinvest in Troy 

For Immediate Release: November 23, 2020
Contact: David A. Banks david.adam.banks@gmail.com 

Troy, NY — On Monday, November 23 leaders of the Troy Branch of the Democratic Socialists of America will join their fellow Trojans in Barker Park to reveal ten demands to defund the Troy Police Department and redirect much-needed funds to the services and communities that need them the most. We will be joined by and have speakers representing Troy 4 Black Lives, Equality for Troy, and the Troy Area Labor council.

Law enforcement agencies have been operating in Troy without meaningful oversight or accountability for as long as anyone can remember, causing severe harm throughout the City but particularly in Troy’s Black and Brown communities. In the last 10 years alone the Troy Police department has murdered at least two Black men, harmed countless others, and cost Trojans hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal settlements in the process. Meanwhile, Troy schools have been forced to cut crucial educational services, our city’s infrastructure continues to crumble, and outbreaks of violence have risen despite increased police funding. Clearly our current approach to public safety is not working: we need to take on the underlying issues that cause crime and invest in our communities. We affirm that Black Lives Matter and that we need to take urgent action to create a Troy where all Black lives truly matter. That is why the Troy Democratic Socialists of America, in collaboration with community partners, is releasing a list of demands that we believe will save lives and bring an end to the violence and poverty in our streets. We urge public officials to adopt these policy positions as soon as possible:

Divest from policing, invest in Troy:

  • Immediate Budget & Hiring Freeze: Halt all future increases in police spending, including the proposed $712,000 increase in the 2021 city budget, and institute a hiring freeze until the City moves forward with an examination of police practices, protocols, and internal culture.
  • Get cops out of schools: Students need support and services, not police surveillance and the constant threat of arrest or punishment. Remove School Resource Officers from Troy schools and invest in programming that helps students work through conflict in healthy, productive, and culturally-relevant ways. 
  • Demilitarize the police: Troy residents are not enemy combatants, and Troy is not a warzone. The use of military equipment such as helmets, camouflage, assault rifles, and tanks is an unnecessary provocation against community members. Troy must stop acquiring military equipment and dispose of its current arsenal.
  • Redirect funding to mental health, affordable housing, and social services:: Redirect funds spent on policing to better support services that keep our community safe, including mental health and housing

Hold police in Troy accountable for misdeeds:

  • Create a Civilian Police Review Board with teeth: Assembled in June 2020, the Police Objective Review Board has not met or released any statements. A real review board, composed of a majority of people most impacted by police violence, must receive sufficient funding, meet at least once a month, review complaints, collect evidence, and have the power to subpoena individuals and suggest or compell disciplinary actions against officers.
  • Create an Easier Process to File a Complaint: Troy community members must be able to file complaints against Troy Police Officers in an easy, convenient manner that does not require interaction with the police. This includes not only having mobile-friendly online forms but having paper forms available in public locations such as libraries. Copies of complaints must also go to Troy’s personnel department.
  • Impose a Duty to Intervene on Troy Police: Require Troy police officers to intercede when a fellow officer is using excessive force, hold officers who fail to do so accountable and protect police officers who intervene from retaliation.
  • Enforce ban on political “thin blue line” or “back the blue” gear: Troy Police must refrain from wearing pins, buttons, scarves, masks, gaiters, ties, and hats that have the symbols and iconography generally associated with political slogans including “thin blue line” and “back the blue.” 

Promote police transparency in Troy:

  • Immediately Release All Disciplinary Records: With the repeal of Section 50-a of the New York Civil Rights Law, the city can and must release the disciplinary records and personnel files of all past, present, and future Troy police officers and command staff. It also must make a commitment to release these records on a regular and ongoing basis.
  • Pass the Right to Know Act:  The Right to Know Act would increase transparency in police interactions with the public by requiring officers to identify themselves when they interact with members of the public, provide a reason for the interaction, and hand over a business card with their name, rank, badge number, and command. It would also require officers to announce, prior to a search, that any searches of one’s body or property must have “voluntary, knowing and intelligent” consent. 

We invite current and aspirant office-holders to adopt these policy positions as soon as possible so that we may begin the long but necessary process of healing our communities. 

These demands and more information about the Troy DSA’s #DefundTroyPD working group can be found at https://defundtroypd.org.