Broome County Sheriff Fred Akshar recently presented his new Community FIRST Plan.
Akshar introduced his plan to the Binghamton Rotary Club on Jan. 24, according to NewsChannel 34, which involves focusing staffing problems within the office of the corrections division as well as department transparency. The corrections division is now down 39 members, which has lead to increased work loads for those still working there. Akshar also aims to grow connections between the sheriff’s office and local organizations. Akshar shared that his intention is to make it easier for conflicts within the community to be addressed by his office smoothly.
Akshar broke his plan into five sections — Fiscal Responsibility, Integrated Community Policing, Responsible Reentry, Safety and Security and Transparency. Akshar explained that the people deserve a sheriff who will utilize the budget wisely and efficiently, as well as invest in long-term programs that will better the community over time. Akshar also wrote about his plan to prevent future offenses by those who have previously been incarcerated by addressing issues such as substance disorder through a Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) program and mental health diagnosis and treatment.
Akshar also highlighted what he sees as a need for transparency between law enforcement and the Broome County community.
“Without transparency, it is utterly impossible for law enforcement to build the necessary trust to properly serve and protect the community,” Akshar wrote in an email. “Additionally, due to the number of recent deaths at the Broome County Correctional Facility, I would demand a review of the current medical contract at the Broome County Correctional Facility and would be receptive to making appropriate changes. Broome County families deserve common sense and common decency from their law enforcement administration, not more of the same status quo policies and management.”
Akshar explained that he is committed to the creation of a four-member Community Response Team. Their purpose will be to use the integrated community policing model to respond to community conflicts or surges of crime wherever they are presented. Real-time data and input directly from the community will be utilized by this team.
Akshar also highlighted some of the organizations he intends to work closer with in order to build stronger community involvement.
“In my previous role as state senator, I was fortunate to have developed strong working relationships with several local community organizations, and I plan to continue to partner with organizations like the Addiction Center of Broome County, the Broome County Council of Churches, the [Young Women Christian Association], [Southern Tier Aids Program] and local Veterans groups along with countless community leaders and average citizens to help build a stronger, better community together,” Akshar said.
During his time as state senator, he was able to meet with different groups throughout Broome County, Akshar explained, and he found that a main issue being reported was members not being able to visit their incarcerated loved ones. Akshar said these issues pertaining to Public Safety and the Correctional Facility were what inspired the new objective.
Akshar expressed hope for the effects that his plan will have on the community.
“The end goal of this plan is a stronger, safer community for every family and resident of Broome County and stronger relationships between our entire team at the Broome County Sheriff’s Office and those we are sworn to protect and serve,” Akshar said.
Akshar wrote that he is committed to this plan and is hopeful for its impact around Broome County, specifically in dealing with incarcerated individuals and their contact with their families.
Celia Holden, a policy intern for the Roosevelt Institute and a freshman double-majoring in economics and political science, expressed her thoughts on Akshar’s new plan.
“I think this plan will be a force of positive change for Broome County because Akshar is committing to bridge the gap between elected officials and devoted community members with strong visions for their future,” Holden wrote. “I would like to see a more outlined plan and more collaboration from Akshar in the future, but I do appreciate that he is publicly committing to immersing himself in the community he is serving.”
Jacqueline Brandel, the public relations director for the Roosevelt Institute and a junior majoring in political science, said she hoped the plan is implemented properly.
“I hope that the transparency of the police is put first. I, as a lot of Binghamton residents are, [am] extremely weary of the police department here,” Brandel said. “I would absolutely love to see Akshar work with [Justice and Unity in the Southern Tier], which is a community abolitionist organization.”