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The PABA Condemns Proposed Budget Cuts to PAB, Says PAB Needs Support, Commitment

The Rochester Police Accountability Board (PAB) is not yet five years old, but it already has developed a storied series of embattlements. The most recent problem facing PAB is a proposed $1.7 million budget cut.

Prior to this newfound financial dilemma, here are several other issues PAB has faced: constant criticism by individuals in the Rochester community-at-large; a series of successive board and staff member resignations; lack of credibility and low cooperation from the Rochester Police Department (RPD); increasing questions about actual authority and ability to engage in positive change-making action; grievances filed by local Locust Club [at least one of which was upheld by local court and an appeals court]; and more.

The PAB expects the budget cut to hinder its work even further. The organization has already overcome significant hurdles establishing a working process; and says they have now begun to yield the results the community has demanded.

However, PAB Board President Larry Knox says, “[a]s we go into our new fiscal year, it is my strong hope and expectation that we will be fully budgeted in the amount of $5 million dollars by the city government.”

This statement is highly optimistic given that the city of Rochester’s $1.7 million proposed PAB budget cut occurred very recently, one month ago – May 2023.

A press release from the Police Accountability Board Alliance (PABA), a community advocacy group for the PAB, notes that the PAB needs “support and commitment at this critical moment, not withdrawal and divestment from our political leaders.”

“PAB seeks to have Mayor Evans and City Council move swiftly and courageously eliminate the proposed $1.7 million budget cut and fully fund the PAB at $5 million,” the press release further reads. “This would empower PAB to establish a staff of 57 workers.”

PAB also wants the city to lift the hiring and spending freeze imposed by City Council, and to compel RPD to grant access to all requested documents, and cooperate fully with all PAB investigations.

The press release further outlines what they say are several successes of the PAB.

“PAB takes pride in two of its successes (despite its uphill journey) towards full funding and cooperation from the city.”

“PAB’s Policy and Oversight Division announces its launch of two particular oversight investigations.

One of those investigations involves examining RPD’s use of pepper spray on juveniles. This inquiry focuses on actions taken by RPD officers since January 29, 2021, when a young girl was pepper sprayed. The Division will also analyze new police rules regarding use of pepper spray on children.

Another investigation will review how RPD uses bean bag guns, including its current bean bag gun program, its rollout, and its training programs.”

"I am extremely proud of the work of our interim executive director, staff and my fellow board members as we have made real progress this year on the community's expectations,” says Knox.

“At our last board meeting we had our first complaint presented to us for panel review. We also approved our Data Transparency Report. Our Staff and Board will continue to work closely with the Administration, City Council and our other allies to make sure that any resources provided to us and then accessed, are used for the work the Community voted for and our Charter dictates."

While the City and Council both are participants in the City’s budget process, neither one has offered any information pertaining to the proposed PAB budget cut.

Minority Reporter requested comment from Rochester City Council and no response has been received.


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