Residents spoke in one “loud and unified voice” for incoming Police Chief Frank Fowler
by Douglass Dowty, Syracuse.com
“In my wildest imagination, in my deepest dreams, I never thought I would be standing here in this position,” Fowler told the crowd of officers, politicians and residents assembled at the Public Safety Building. “My mother, in heaven right now, is smiling down on us.”
Mayor-elect Stephanie Miner said Fowler will be police chief and District Chief Mark McLees fire chief when she takes office Jan. 1.
Miner called the fire department one of Syracuse’s crown jewels. McLees said he wanted to focus on the department’s strengths, like maintaining the city’s highest ranking possible from the insurance industry.
Miner said Fowler’s reputation with many of the city’s constituencies made him a good choice for police chief. In her conversations with residents, they spoke in one “loud and unified voice” for Fowler.
Fowler said his new position wouldn’t change him from the man who took the oath as police officer 20 years ago.
“I’m no different now,” he said. “I live in this city, I work in this city. And I care deeply about this city. If I’m in the neighborhood when a crime occurs, and I get there, I’ll be putting the handcuffs around the suspect.”
Asked about curbing the city’s homicide rate, with a record-tying 25 homicides a year ago and 20 this year, Fowler said police can only do so much.
“I can’t guarantee the homicide rate is going to drop,” he said. “I don’t know if anyone has the answer to random violence.”
However, he said the department’s continued focus on planning and crime analysis can help stem violence.
Miner said police are at the end of the chain when it comes to the killing of another person. Homicides are the result of the breakdown of the fabric of society, she said.
Helen Hudson, president of Mothers Against Gun Violence, said Fowler was an excellent choice for police chief.
She has worked with him on the police department’s Trauma Response Team, which grew from Fowler’s idea eight months ago. In the past week, seven more pastors joined the team, which includes pastors, members of Mothers Against Gun Violence, and others.
“It’s a wonderful working relationship,” Hudson said. “It’s a wonderful day for the city of Syracuse.”