For Immediate Release Media Contacts: Pastor Wanda Wilson 585.957.6827 June 14, 2022
firstname.lastname@example.org Roberta Davis 585.359.3573
Rearming the Commitment for an Independent Police Accountability System in Rochester, New York
Recent events compel support for the PAB to ensure its continued viability
Rochester, NY—In response to the recent course of events, including PAB Executive Director Reynolds’ suspension and PAB chair Wilson’s resignation, the Police Accountability Board Alliance must rearm some basic principles found in the legislation it wrote.
Previous systems of holding police accountable have been dangerously inadequate. There has never been an accountability system like this one before, so the Board has been charged with, quite simply, inventing the wheel on which it will roll. In its infancy, though, it has experienced a number of roadblocks, some internal, some in its relations with city administration, and some due to a lack of cooperation from the Rochester Police Department. Members of the Board are all unpaid volunteers chosen for their experience and integrity, to uphold the 5 pillars of Article 18 of the City Charter. The Alliance asks the community to extend its understanding and support as the Board navigates these diculties and develops the processes necessary for its work.
The Alliance calls for our community’s understanding in these developments; we also call for all agencies and governmental departments working with the PAB to cooperate fully and resolve any obstacles to the PAB’s carrying out its assigned tasks. In particular, we call on the RPD to give it the support that is required by the charter. The Board needs all of our support as it resolves all of these issues.
We wish to remind everyone of the ve pillars on which the PAB stands:
1. It must be an independent agency of city government, separate from RPD
2. It must have the power to independently investigate complaints of police misconduct.
3. It must have subpoena power to compel the production of evidence and witnesses.
4. It needs disciplinary power, using a disciplinary matrix. *
5. It must have the power to review and evaluate RPD patterns, practices, policies and procedures to recommend systemic changes and to prevent misconduct from happening in the rst place.
Our Alliance is a coalition of local community groups responsible for nominating four of the nine sitting members of the Board. We also advocate for the Board's full and independent functioning as denied in the City Charter and as demanded by an overwhelming majority of Rochester’s voters in the 2019 referendum. We are passionate about reforming our unjust criminal justice system and checking the abuses of power historically incited by the Rochester Police Department. We believe, too, that correcting those abuses will benefit the community and its police force.
Much of the PAB’s work continues and its members are focused on learning, serving, and protecting. It will soon be taking complaints from the public, and we strongly recommend that all investigations be allowed to proceed unencumbered, fairly, thoroughly, and in a timely fashion.
The Alliance thanks all of the Board members for their service throughout. We are concerned, as are all Rochesterians, about recent events and about the many allegations that have been raised in the media, but we hope for their swift resolution so the PAB’s critical work can proceed. Because the public vote has spoken clearly, it is our duty to make sure the PAB can do the work the community has told us it wants. Let them do their job. The Alliance and the PAB are not going away.
*Although this point is to be decided by New York’s highest court, we expect this to remain part of the charter. ###