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Rochester PAB Can not Discipline Police

The Rochester Police Accountability Board (PAB) has no disciplinary power according to a NYS Supreme Court ruling last week. The highest court sided with lower courts when it made its decision. Now, the PAB is responding.

The Police Accountability Board is disappointed with the decision by the New York State Appellate Court to remove the agency’s disciplinary power,” the organization said in a statement.

“While the ruling is impactful to civilian oversight, the PAB remains committed to conducting rigorous, unbiased investigations into allegations of police misconduct. The agency will continue to recommend appropriate actions and disciplinary measures to the Rochester Police Department based on our findings.”

The embattled organization had been embroiled in controversy over the last few years. The PAB's former executive director accused the former board chair of sexual harassment. The incident and growing frustration over delayed investigations may be the reasons the organization received an unfavorable response from community members during a survey conducted by the Rochester City Council.

The organization notes that RPD is “still required to inform the community if they plan to implement the PAB’s recommendations, a condition outlined in the City Charter and demanded by Rochester voters in 2019.”

“The people of Rochester called for an independent and robust Police Accountability Board. Since then we have established an agency that gives them a voice. Not just through independent investigations of alleged misconduct, but through policy reform, and increased community input on how public safety is carried out in this city,” said Sherry Walker-Cowart, Interim Executive Director of The PAB.

The Democrat & Chronicle also reported that after 346 days of investigation, a complaint of police misconduct submitted by a Rochester man resulted in a ruling of "Not sustained." This ruling does not imply that the misconduct did not occur, but rather that there was insufficient evidence to either confirm the accusations or fully exonerate the officer involved. The case has now been closed, marking another step in the PAB's ongoing efforts to address and resolve complaints of police misconduct.

But the organization says with community support, they will continue to “provide transparency, accountability, and justice in Rochester.”

“In addition to investigation efforts, the Police Accountability Board will also persist in making policy recommendations to promote the highest standards of law enforcement. The agency’s policy Proposals for Change and Oversight Investigations will continue to serve as a critical tool for driving systemic change, ensuring that best practices are adopted to enhance community safety and trust. The Police Accountability Board calls upon policymakers, legislators, and the public to engage in a meaningful dialogue about the role and responsibilities of the Police Accountability Board and to explore avenues for equipping the agency with all it needs to conduct its work."

"The PAB remains as an agency that is independent from the City and RPD, tasked with investigating police misconduct and issuing recommendations and evaluations of RPD patterns, practices, policies, and procedures. This Police Accountability Board that we have built together as a community is greater than the sum of its parts,” noted Spero Michailidis, Admin Support Committee Member.


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