Syracuse mayor, councilors reach deal on police car controversy

Syracuse's mayor and lawmakers have reached a deal to allow the police department to purchase several marked and unmarked vehicles.

Mayor Stephanie Miner announced the deal Tuesday afternoon at City Hall, along with Syracuse Common Council Minority Leader Ryan McMahon and Public Safety Committee Chair Pam Hunter.

The deal restores seven unmarked cars that Common Councilors cut from an amendment last week. In addition to those seven unmarked cars, the department will be able to buy 23 marked cars, three concealed identity vehicles, and three evidence technician vans.

As part of the compromise, the police department has to cut back on take-home cars by 20 percent over the next year. Chief Frank Fowler has already scaled back on take-home cars by about that much since January.

Mayor Miner says the vehicles the department wants to buy are necessary to protect the city. She says, "As you can imagine, the ability of the police department to meet its mission is directly related to the tools that it has and its ability to respond to everything from routine calls to drug investigations. The Council amendment raised obvious concerns by Chief Fowler and his leadership team, and we made no effort to hide our concern about this."

This deal comes ahead of a Common Council vote on October 24.

The police car issue has been seen as the latest example of tension between the mayor and the councilors. During her announcement today, Mayor Miner was asked about those problems. The mayor quoted an old saying, that people don't want to see sausage made, and they don't want to see laws made. She says the lawmaking process is not a pleasant one, and "there is an inevitable part of democracy in that tempers and passions flare."

However, Miner says this new agreement shows she and the councilors can move forward. She says, "When we're all focused on doing the public good, the public will benefit from that.I trust that given the reputations and the characters of the members of the council, that's what's going to happen."

Councilors Ryan McMahon and Pamela Hunter stood beside Mayor Miner for the announcement.