JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown City Council held its first work session of the new year Monday night with newly elected mayor Eddie Sundquist in attendance and new council president Tony Dolce presiding.
Prior to the work session of the full council, the public safety committee met and chair Brent Sheldon asked Jamestown Police Chief Harry Snellings to offer an update on the impact the new state bail reform law has had on the city police force. Snelling said that since they were only six days into the new year, there really wasn’t much to report locally but there were several cases across the state that are highlighting some problems with bail reform as enacted.
“Statewide, there’s been a lot of examples made of some serious incidents and that have been discussed in numerous press conferences, both here locally and across the state,” Snellings said. “Here, I wouldn’t say there’s been anything that’s been out of whack. We did have three people in jail the other day and they were all domestic violence incidents – one individual that we had to deal with earlier in the shift. If things were the way they were prior to January 1st, he probably would have been in jail earlier and it would have prevented the three charges that he got later in the night. So again, right now we are in the ‘wait and see’ mode.”
Snellings also said that there is an effort to get state lawmakers in Albany to suspend the new law until it can be more closely reviewed and amended.
“The state senate majority leader is rethinking the whole bail reform. That doesn’t mean it is going to happen. I know the state chief’s association, the sheriff’s association, the state district attorney association have all asked for a referendum, basically to put a hold on it and let’s have an honest, open discussion on it. All of us agree there needs to be some reform but not as drastic as what we are seeing now,” Snellings added.
The bail reforms were passed last April and involve the elimination of cash bail and also pre-trial detention for most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.
In addition to the bail reform law, the state also imposed changes in the state discovery law – which involves the timeline for sharing evidence collected in a case with the defendant. Snellings the JPD and other police agencies across the state are waiting to see how that might impact their operations.
In other city news, the council got an update on the emergency demolition of a piece of city property that had a roof collapse overt the weekend. City development director Crystal Surdyk said the demolition of the former Quality Rebuilders building at 823 Clinton St. will begin today. The estimated cost for the demolition will be around $25,000
Mayor Sundquist also told the council members the city is in the process of updating its website, including adding more information to its calendar in order to make it easier for visitors to find out what meetings are taking place during any given month.
And Dolce also reminded the council members that he would like to see future work sessions held outside of city hall and in various wards around the district to give city residents an opportunity to sit in on a meeting they may not otherwise be able or want to attend at city hall.