“We have been building bridges,” says Professor of Government Frank Anechiarico, who has been leading the College/Community Partnership for Racial Justice since its inception last summer.

To date the partnership has harnessed the talent of 12 professors, 20 professional experts, and 35 college students in the analysis of surveys, to organize and present eight webinars, and in culling best practices for an extensive report addressing racial justice reform.

Frank Anechiarico

The report, which was sent to all police districts in Oneida and Herkimer counties, has been embraced by the Utica and Rome police departments as they prepared their responses to Governor Cuomo’s executive order that required all jurisdictions with police agencies to forward detailed reform plans to Albany by April 1. Plans were required to take racial justice into account, while sourcing local experience and opinion.  

The Utica City report includes proof of the partnership’s participation. “At the conclusion of its work, the College Partnership submitted findings to the City’s Advisory Committee and the fruits of that collaboration permeate this report,” reads the document. Anechiarico added, “We were also mentioned in the Rome City plan for future consultation and cooperation.”

Anechiarico is in conversation with several other smaller districts, as well as with the Oneida County sheriff, concerning their possible future adoption of the partnership’s suggested reforms. He also recently met with the police chiefs of Vernon and Yorkville.

The research, produced by students in parallel courses at Utica and Hamilton colleges, was presented during the partnership’s final webinar in February on WKTV and via the web. Utica College Professor Bernard Hyman had organized a series of meetings with his students and police. Members of Anechiarico’s Crafting Criminal Justice Reform class, taught along with Associate Professor of Government Gbemende Johnson and Judge Ralph Eannace of Utica City Court, had reviewed scholarly and other literature on policing and criminal justice to identify best practices for the report. 

Gbemende Johnson Partnership community surveys conducted and incorporated into the report were analyzed by Johnson and SUNY Polytechnic Institute Professor of Sociology Veronica Tichenor. Johnson, along with the students under her direction, were able to discern relative differences by race and residency in the experience and evaluation of the police and other parts of the criminal justice system. 

Anokhi Manchanda ’22 has taken four courses with Anechiarico, including Seminar in the Criminal Justice System in Oneida County, N.Y., Crafting Criminal Justice Reform, and Constitutional Law. Through the Levitt Center’s Law and Justice Program, she has been working with center coordinator Zack Schuman to follow up on the reform project by contacting police districts, particularly those smaller ones with minimal staffing, to offer additional assistance.

“There are so many things wrong in America, and it’s so important to fix these things; there’s so much work to be done,” Manchanda said.

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