In the wake of recent survey results showing that community members have low confidence in the Police Accountability Board (PAB), the United Christian Leadership Ministry (UCLM) is hosting a community town hall meeting to discuss the “Right to Know” legislation being proposed by the PAB.
The informational event will take place on August 3 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the First Church of God, 334 Clarissa Street.
According to the press release, the PAB "Right to Know" legislation is a set of guidelines for the Rochester Police Department (RPD) officers.
The guidelines include communicating identity with their name and badge number, explaining the purpose of their law enforcement actions during situations such as traffic or pedestrian stops, obtaining consent for search/seizures and conducting those searches.
The draft legislation also mandates the collecting and reporting of all activity data associated with all police incidents.
The town hall meeting could be a step toward improving community relations.
The survey, conducted by City Council—though unscientific—found that most respondents had negative opinions of the PAB.
According to Rochester City Council, survey respondents were asked a series of questions about the PAB and its conduct, with a stated goal of restoring the public’s faith in the PAB.
While the survey was done online, City Councilmembers and staff also conducted several in-person public outreach sessions with community groups, taking feedback on the PAB and offering physical copies of the survey. In this report, City Council details the results of the Police Accountability Board survey.
The online survey consisted of 9 questions. A few of the notable questions from the survey asked participants how effective do you think the PAB has been at holding the RPD accountable — the results state 522 said not effective, 84 said somewhat effective, 15 said effective, and 13 said very effective. How much confidence do you have in the PAB’s ability to carry out its mission — 2 stated Confident, 506 were Not Confident, 76 were Somewhat Confident and 24 Very Confident.
Survey participants were asked — Do you feel the PAB has an active presence in the community it serves? 468 stated not present, 32 stated present, 113 stated somewhat present and 21 very present.
Question 7 asked, Please note any current PAB practices that you would like to see continue and/or expand. The report states responses suggested either dissolving the Police Accountability Board or indicating that none of its practices should expand or continue. A number of responses indicated that the PAB should focus on its stated purpose and avoid distractions such as infighting and “fluff.” Other responses indicated the PAB should work more diligently to communicate effectively with the community and increase transparency. Some respondents indicated they would like to see the powers of the PAB expand to allow the Board to discipline RPD officers.
The overall results from the report show confidence in the Police Accountability Board is low among a majority of the Survey respondents. Respondents overwhelmingly found the PAB to be:
Lacking in community engagement
Opaque A vast majority of respondents indicated they have never personally interacted with the PAB.
Over 25% of respondents indicated they were not familiar with the PAB. A large number of long-form responses included calls to disband or defund the PAB. A plurality of responses came from the 14609 area code, located in Rochester’s Northeast District. The majority of respondents were male. The majority of Respondents were white. A plurality of respondents were over the age of 60. Most respondents had an education level of at least a Bachelor’s degree.
The PAB released the following statement regarding the online survey — “There is a deliberate and persistent misconception that the Police Accountability Board and agency have not achieved anything since their inception in 2019. However, the board is now operating as an independent, community- led board and is hearing cases. The agency provides a confidential and safe reporting environment. The staff is involved in ongoing community engagement, publishes policy updates, data and investigative reports, conducts investigations and has completed a disciplinary matrix.
These initiatives have been achieved in spite of City Council first freezing and then decreasing the PAB’s budget, instituting a hiring freeze followed by a slow-paced hiring process. Staff has had no direct access to Rochester Police Department databases and receives incomplete information from the RPD. City Council has failed to fill vacant board seats per City Charter requirements.”
Do you think the PAB will regain trust within the community?