Featured image: Thousands gathered at Troy’s Riverfront Park before marching through city streets Sunday afternoon, June 7, 2020. Photograph credit: Jesse King/WAMC. Photograph source: https://www.wamc.org/post/thousands-march-racial-justice-rally-troy
I submitted this comment to the City of Troy PRRC via email and via the committee’s public forum on February 22, 2021. To submit written comments to the City of Troy PRRC, email PoliceRRC@troyny.gov or send by mail to: City Hall, Office of the Mayor, 433 River Street, Troy NY 12180, c/o Police Reform & Reinvention Collaborative. The PRRC is accepting public comments through March 1, 2021.
My name is Chel Miller. I am a Troy resident. I am the Communications Director at the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault and I serve on the Board of Directors for the Capital Region Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
I would like to echo the concerns raised by Troy constituents at previous public forums, namely the concern about the City of Troy’s failure to include impacted communities in the development and appointments of the Committee and the need for reconciliation between people directly harmed by the police and the city at large. I agree with the concerns my fellow community members have raised.
I would also like to raise some of my own concerns as a Troy resident and as an advocate for survivors of violence:
- While COVID-19 has made it impossible for us to convene in person, these public forums and listening sessions are not accessible to the community. Having to register twice in order to provide input in this venue is unnecessary and redundant. Many people in our community have inconsistent internet access. What kind of outreach is the committee doing to make sure their voices are heard? Further, the listening sessions are inaccessible to community members who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. ASL interpretation and closed captioning should be provided.
- The scope of this committee is incredibly limited, to the detriment of Troy residents. The City of Troy needs to shift its focus upstream: investing in opportunities for our communities to thrive—like healthcare, housing, education, food security, and community interventions that reduce arrests and incarceration—will prevent violence and improve community safety in our city.
- The Troy Police Department accounts for nearly 1/3 of the city’s $75 million general fund. As others have shared, by eliminating the police department’s 2021 budget increase, we can afford to invest in our community. The bottom line is that the City of Troy needs to invest in the people of Troy, not in policing and incarcerating Troy residents who are already marginalized by systemic racism and other forms of oppression.
- Finally, we still do not have justice for the murder of Edson Thevenin in April 2016. Those who enabled the killing of Edson Thevenin and those who have covered up his murder have not taken accountability for their actions. I ask the City of Troy and Troy PD: How do you expect us to trust you?