ONEIDA — Oneida Police Chief Steve Lowell, who took command of the division in late February, has hit the bottom working.
“It’s been busy, and it’s a superb mixture of understanding the function in its entirety,” he mentioned. “Police Chief John Little and I had labored collectively throughout my time as assistant chief, and I really feel ready for this function.”
The transition has been easy, and Lowell attributes that to the work of the officers on the Oneida Police Division. The one hiccup Lowell might even consider was the stand-off on Phelps Avenue previous to the swearing-in ceremony — and even that was dealt with professionally by the OPD, Madison County Sheriff’s Workplace, and the Neighborhood Heart’s Cell Disaster Evaluation Group.
“I feel it highlights that when it hits the fan, we come collectively as a county and a police division with the mechanisms in place to deal with large-scale incidents,” he mentioned. “And when you’ve got these proper individuals in place, all of it works like a well-oiled machine.”
Lowell has a plan already in place to assist information his first 12 months on the helm, which incorporates adapting domestically to quite a lot of nationwide points.
“We had been dealing with nationwide scrutiny as regulation enforcement as an entire that highlighted needed adjustments in regulation enforcement. No person is debating that we wanted to make changes nationally, however the state of New York usually does issues effectively,” he mentioned. “We now have good oversight from the state, and whereas it may be arduous, it retains us to a excessive commonplace, from our police coaching to in-service coaching.”
One needed change, Lowell mentioned, was to amass and make the most of body-worn cameras. Because of securing some grant funding, the body-worn cameras are anticipated to be in service round June. With the cameras, Lowell hopes so as to add one other layer of belief and transparency.
One other wanted step, Lowell mentioned, is for the Oneida Metropolis Police Division to turn into accredited by the state. “Changing into accredited gives constant and assured police service,” he mentioned. “Changing into accredited and incomes state recognition by doing what you say you’re doing primarily based on coverage brings legitimacy and one other degree of belief.”
Work is at present being carried out to digitize the OPD’s insurance policies and provide them on-line for all residents, one among many requirements required for accreditation. State auditors will take a look at that and put the entire OPD’s insurance policies and procedures underneath a microscope, Lowell mentioned.
“From fleet to coaching, every little thing is put underneath a microscope, and I welcome that degree of scrutiny,” Lowell mentioned. “We don’t cover something on the Oneida Police Division. We’re completely clear.”
Lowell mentioned he discovered an previous accreditation software written by then-Police Chief John McClellan in 1993. And on it, a few of the points he needs to deal with had been nonetheless points again then. “Within the 1993 software, he needed to do a questionnaire and record the 5 most severe issues dealing with the company so as of significance,” he mentioned.
On that record had been:
Extreme funding restrictions;
Elevated workload as a consequence of growth;
Lack of coaching; and
Offering companies to the Oneida Indian Nation.
Whereas the final two points on that record have been resolved, Lowell mentioned the division continues to be engaged on the primary three subjects. “We’ve had these issues for the final 30 years,” he mentioned. “I do know Chief Meeker, Chief Little, Chief McClellan, and Chief Paul Thompson made pushes for extra staffing. However we have now funding restrictions.”
“I feel the long-term objective is to deal with these three issues,” he mentioned. “With funding, I feel we have to work out a strategic plan with town to make these objectives a actuality.”
In relation to manpower, the OPD has gone from 25 officers to a certified power of 28 officers. By way of workload, Lowell mentioned mandates from the state the Division wants to stick to, reminiscent of the brand new discovery legal guidelines, create a bigger workload for officers that might be higher spent elsewhere.
No matter what the longer term holds, Lowell is grateful for the efforts of the division and others within the metropolis. “From the Fireplace Division to Codes and the mayor’s workplace, everybody works along with the very best mission meant — to higher Oneida,” he mentioned. “I’m grateful to work in a metropolis that has that view. I’m proud to serve on this capability.”