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💬 Ask City Council: what's the deal with the police comms ordinance?

Dear Mayor Madden
Dear Mayor Madden
Hi friends, I write to you on the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. The work continues. Thanks to all of you who participated in the Public Comment Speed Run for the last City Council regular session (meeting minutes). Despite our efforts to send as many emails with as little effort as possible, Ordinance 23 passed 5-2. Predictably, the Council voted to hire 6 new officers. The “slow roll” vote happens five hours twenty three minutes into the meeting if you want to hear our reps talking about their votes.
This email has a different kind of call to action from Angela Beallor (This is Dan Phiffer writing the intro.) We are trying to figure out what the deal is with Ordinance 38: “Amending The Special Revenue Budget To Accept A NYS Homeland Security Grant For The Purpose Of Purchasing Radios And Related Equipment.”
Email your council rep. Speak out at today’s Finance meeting (sign up by 3pm). You can reply to this message if you hear of anything we should know about (don’t worry, it won’t send your reply to the whole list).
After some explanatory text from Angela, I’ll jump back in with some links, including some tweets from the account @copwatch12180, highlighting many of the things we’d have very little visibility into without access to Troy Police scanner chatter.

Today is the Troy City Council’s monthly Finance Meeting. Last week, the agendas for both the regular finance meeting and a special meeting were posted. They contained over four hundred pages of text. We would understand if you missed Ordinance 38. We almost missed it ourselves. 
That is until Jeffrey Belschwinder, a.k.a. Sidewinder (Albany Proper recently published a story on him), tipped off a community member about the potential ramifications of Ordinance 38. When they and Belschwinder arrived before others on the scene of a recent fire, Belschwinder initially asked if the community member was with the Red Cross. Then upon realizing they must have found out about the fire from the police scanner, he warned them that the whole police scanner system was about to be fully encrypted. The implications of this are that the public will no longer have access to what goes over the police radios.
Belschwinder has maintained a public feed of the Troy Police & Fire Department and Rensselaer County Fire & EMS, which relies on access to unencrypted radio signals, so he has some authority on this matter. At the scene of the fire, he told the community member that the City of Troy is doing this because of “all the protests and riots from the summer last year. Total lockdown to the public.” He said the same at a separate fire a week later with a City Council candidate present as well. 
We reached out to several City Council members. All know nothing about this legislation. So why does Jeffrey Belschwinder have prior knowledge about the potential impact of this legislation? Why is there potentially more early-warning transparency from someone to Belschwinder and not the City Council or City of Troy residents? 
While this may seem like meandering to the point, it provides important context. We write this now not fully knowing what the intentions of Ordinance 38 are. And we need you to pay attention, ask questions, help us shed some light on it. 
Ordinance 38 tells us that in September 2020, Troy was awarded a grant from NYS Homeland Security, in order to implement changes related to “anti-terrorism.” The agenda then provides the breakdown of a budget to implement the grant, a small fund amounting to $130,271. The budget gives no real details except a breakdown that the monies will be used for computer hardware and software, communication equipment, records management, information technology, and training costs. 
We need to identify what these funds are earmarked for and encourage our City Council members to ask clarifying questions during tomorrow’s Finance Meeting. Sign up to speak by 3pm, and/or email your rep.
Rhea Drysdale recently posted some helpful background information and questions for city council in response to her conversation with Belschwinder, if you could use some inspiration. For some broader context, you might also want to read this article: Encrypted Police Scanners Are Gaining Popularity Among Law Enforcement. What Does That Mean for Us?
The City Dispatch
PD were dispatched to a call from another agency reporting a subject was feeling suicidal. Dispatch made contact with the subject, who informed dispatch they have PTSD and are “traumatized by officers.”
Dispatch states subject does not want officers near them.
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Dear Mayor Madden
Dear Mayor Madden

We are here to hold you to doing better, to support you in doing better, in understanding that all lives can’t matter until Black lives truly matter.

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