NEW YORK – Today, the Rochester City Council introduced legislation to the community that would create a nine-member Police Accountability Board (PAB). The board would have the ability to investigate complaints of excessive force involving Rochester police officers and enact any disciplinary actions.
Currently, Rochester has a Civilian Review Board that is involved in reviewing cases related to excessive use of force but has no decision making power in disciplinary actions. The PAB would overhaul the current Civilian Review Board and charge disciplinary actions that do not require input from the Chief of Police.
“There is no such thing as full accountability when the police can police themselves. There have been several cases around the city where police used excessive force and the public was left in the dark,” said NYCLU Genesee Valley chapter director Iman Abid. “The PAB would help ensure that policing in Rochester is more transparent, hold police accountable for misconduct, and start to rebuild the trust between the community and the police department.”
City Council also reviewed a proposal from Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, which would have only given the PAB the power to recommend discipline. The Mayor’s proposal would have set up a system similar to New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, where the police commissioner frequently rejects recommendations made by the board.
There is longstanding recognition by New York courts, the state legislature, and municipalities that control over police discipline is a power that rightly belongs to local government officials and not the police themselves.