A Conversation with the Chief

Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler speaks to students at the Criminal Justice Club meeting.

Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler speaks to students at the Criminal Justice Club meeting.

Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler was the main speaker at the Criminal Justice Club’s first forum of the academic year September 7 in Mawhinney Hall.

Fowler began by discussing his background. He was born and raised in St. Louis and the surrounding area. Fowler spent three years in the Army including being stationed at Fort Drum, worked as a counselor at Elmcrest Children’s Center and became a Syracuse Police officer in 1989. “My recipe for success is to outwork everybody around me,” Fowler told students. “Someone will notice and it will move you forward. If you’ve worked hard it will prepare you for the next level.”

Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler

Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler

Fowler was named Syracuse Police Chief in December 2009. He told students when he retires in late 2017 he will be the second longest serving Chief in department history. Fowler also proudly shared that he rose to the ranks of both Deputy Chief and Chief faster than anyone in the history of the force.

During his question and answer session with students Fowler touched on numerous topics.

-Police and community relations:

“Everything is magnified now days. When something bad happens in law enforcement everything stops and everyone focuses on the bad. People don’t embrace the fact that what may have happened occurred on one day within a small time frame. No one bothers to look back and say, ‘What happened the other 364 days before this happened? What was the relationship then?’ All of your hard work goes right around the window because the attention is placed on the negative. The police cannot effectively function without the community. The community cannot effectively function without the police. The people that we serve deserve a police department that they have trust and confidence in and that’s what we at the Syracuse Police Department try to give them.”


-On the increased number of crime cameras in Syracuse:

“Our police department is smaller than it has ever been and we have an uptick in violence. It’s our goal to keep the community safe. We use the technology to serve as a deterrent. It becomes an investigative tool for those ignorant enough to commit the crime. We use our crime density map to show us where the highest concentration of violence is and that’s where we try to place our cameras.”


-What people can do about the number of guns in the community:

“If you see something, say something. The community is our eyes and ears. We need people to get in touch with us when they see things. We’re working very closely with the ATF and other federal partners to try to get a handle on this. It’s challenging right now.”


-On body cameras which Syracuse Police are in the process of acquiring:

“A lot of times we don’t get the full story when we are trying to figure out what happened. We seldom get the whole story or a true story. When you have a camera present and people know the camera is present it helps with both sides. Everybody benefits.”


To learn more about OCC’s Criminal Justice Club contact Professor Jessica Field at fieldj@sunyocc.edu or Professor Pete Patnode at p.e.patnode@sunyocc.edu.

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