To be fully transparent, I (Timothy A. Bennett) am the owner and publisher of the Cortland Voice. I am also the son of a deceased officer who served for 25 years. I personally funded the “Black Lives Matter” mural on the corner of Court St and Main St in Cortland (separate from my role with the Cortland Voice, separate from my board of director positions with both SUNY Cortland’s Alumni Association and the Cortland Downtown Partnership, and separate from my role as a licensee of FunFlicks Indoor and Outdoor Movies). I funded the project, because I wanted to raise awareness of unequal treatment of people of color.
The City of Cortland and Cortland Police Department held their second forum regarding New York State Executive Order 203 last night. The stream of the last night's forum and a link to the first forum are at the bottom of this article.
A word from a community resident, a state trooper, and a stakeholder:
Whitney Hargett is a City of Cortland resident, and she had questions on how police handle domestic violence calls, what training officers were given to assess a domestic violence situation at the site of an incident, and how often the officers were trained. Hargett stated that she was an advocate at the Cortland YWCA’s AVV (Aid to Victim’s of Violence) from 2013-2015. She is invited to speak at the 7:50 mark in the video (view the Youtube link to hear her speak with the panelists).
Brad Hillman is a City of Cortland resident and a New York State Trooper. He questioned the panelists and mayor on why the forum was being held. He was invited to speak at the 38:40 mark in the video (view the Youtube link to hear him speak with the panelists). At the 43:02 mark, Hillman followed with, “I know why we are all here. I know the...nation-wide outrage of why we’re all here...How do you think we’re doing in the City of Cortland with the Police Department….in regards to the overall social nonsense that’s been...that’s been circulating over the past several months? How do you think we’re doing?”(view the Youtube link to hear him speak with the panelists).
Even though he didn’t make the officials on the panel and those viewing the forum aware of it, Hillman is a New York State Trooper (Troop T, Zone Three). For transparency, we (The Cortland Voice) felt that this information should be made public due to this forum being held to allow the community to express themselves to city officials and learn more on how the police department is operating. Hillman received the Troop T, Zone Three Vehicle and Traffic Law Enforcement award for 2018 in April of 2019.
Steve Williams, a local educator, community activist, and Cortland stakeholder spoke as well. Steve was a speaker at the Black Lives Matter rally in June at Courthouse Park in Cortland, and is at the 2:40:30 mark in the video (view the Youtube link to hear him speak with the panelists). He felt that he wasn’t given the same opportunity to speak as others. Earlier in the forum, the panelists asked speakers to stay on task and a few speakers did not.