A resolution dies in committee to denounce Schenectady’s call to Miles to “fund the police”
SCHENECTADY – The city council’s public safety committee has refused to act on a proposal to denounce the city’s school board member Jamaica Miles’ call to fund the police department.
Tuesday’s question sparked significant debate that included a concern about preserving Miles’ freedom of expression.
Councilor Karen Zalewski Wildzunas moved the resolution, supported by Council Majority Leader John Polimeni, while Councilor Marion Porterfield and Chairman John Mootooveren pushed back. Council member Carmel Patrick did not weigh in on the issue.
The problem was Miles’ public remarks in favor of funding the police.
Zalewski-Wildzunas referred to a report in which Miles called for police funding at an event in Albany.
“My concern is that things are going in the right direction,” Zalewski-Wildzunas said in an interview after the meeting. “We have a new [school] Superintendent, and we have a sitting school board member actively declaring that she wants to fund the police. Frankly, he’s a leader in our community driving a wedge between school and police and it’s just not a good way for us to move forward as a community.
Zalewski-Wildzunas said Miles’ comments hurt Police Chief Eric Clifford and the work of the police department in planning the process of police reform and reinvention.
“We have come a long way,” said Zalewski-Wildzunas. “There is more work to be done.
Zalewski-Wildzunas said his request was anticipated ahead of the city’s 2022 budget presentation in October.
“I want our police to understand that we are supporting them,” she said.
But Porterfield, noting that she also supports the police, said police department funding should be used during the budget process, and she was not aware of any official petitions to fund the police who had surrendered to the council.
Additionally, Porterfield said Zalewski-Wildzunas’ resolution appeared to point to Miles and his First Amendment right to protest and assemble peacefully.
“We have a lot of people coming in front of the board and the rail. I don’t think we all agree with everything they say, ”Porterfield said, adding that resolutions against them would be“ going down a slippery slope ”.
The city councilor also suggested that an affirmative vote would have had the unintended consequence of inviting the American Civil Liberties Union to council meetings to defend free speech.
But Polimeni suggested Miles was wrong to interfere in board business as a member of the school board. Polimeni said that for a very long time he understood that the two public entities were very distinct organizations.
“And here we have a school board member crossing that line,” he said.
Polimeni said he disagreed with Porterfield in that the resolution was “a lot about the funding of the police, and not about a specific individual. “
Mootooveren suggested the resolution was unnecessary. He said he didn’t believe “any of us would ever deny the police the resources they need.
In a text message, Miles declined to comment on Tuesday night.
But a comment posted by All of Us on YouTube footage from the meeting read, “Write resolutions against what a town resident said… wow.”
The committee acted on two points related to the police:
The committee voted to accept a grant of $ 354,142 for the elimination of gun violence for the State Department of Criminal Justice Services Police Department. It is part of a funding of $ 785,275 as part of a partnership with the Schenectady County Attorney’s Office, the County Probation Department and the Sheriff’s Department.
The committee also accepted $ 39,440 from the state for municipal police to increase seat belt use and reduce aggressive driving behavior.
The elements of money advanced to the Common Council for the passage.
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