In an effort to be more transparent with the public, the NYPD announced it will begin live streaming its precinct council meetings.
Residents, council members, as well as community board members weighed in on the new initiative.
Steve Swieciki of City Island explained that when he taped City Island Civic Association meetings, he was eventually told to stop because it is a private organization. Swieciki feels streaming precinct council meetings is a step in the right direction and hopes other groups follow suit.
“I think it’s definitely a good thing and it’s long overdue,” Swieciki said. “It’s beneficial to community relations because it’s provides more accountability and transparency.”
Annie Boller, who’s on the 45th Precinct Council, normally streams Community Board 10 meetings. She was not allowed to film at the precinct council, but is glad the NYPD is changing its tune.
Community board district managers in the borough want their meetings live streamed as well. Matt Cruz of CB10 and Ischia Bravo of CB7 agree it comes down to funding.
Bravo explained that while CB 12 is televised due to its contract with Bronxnet, it is the only one that does so. If there were more money available from the city, then maybe things would be different, she stated.
This is a working class community where far too often people can’t attend meetings, so having them streamed would be a huge advantage, she said.
“I think streaming all committee meetings is also important,” Bravo said. “It’s definitely something we need.”
Bravo said she recently met with the NYC Civic Engagement Commission about finding funding to stream their meetings, but nothing has come to fruition yet.
The commission was formed in 2018 and runs a citywide participatory budgeting program with guidance from a participatory budgeting advisory committee and partners with community-based organizations and civic leaders, to increase awareness of city services, and assist New York City agencies in developing civic engagement initiatives;
According to Cruz, it’s 2020 and it’s about time community boards caught up to the digital age.
“For the precinct council and the community boards, it’s a wonderful opportunity to view meetings,” Cruz said. “Unfortunately, we don’t always have the resources to do it.”
However, Cruz explained that live streaming could be a double-edged sword. If they receive funding for streaming one year, they could lose it the following.
“It’s a commitment every year because of our budget it could be taken away or cut,” he remarked.
George Torres, district manager for CB12, said while they stream their meetings, it isn’t cheap.
He has tried to get Bronxnet to offer the service free of charge to all the community boards similar to what they do with the borough president’s office.
“If you are serious about good governance and transparency I do not see how this is not the natural evolution of these meetings,” Torres said. “I am pushing my board to start streaming our committee meetings so everyone has an opportunity to see what’s happening on the local level. Community boards and police precinct council meetings are the most basic of local government meetings.”