ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – Two organizations are currently debating the controversial Rochester City Police Accountability Board Referendum.
The Police Union, the Rochester Police Locust Club, says there are already processes in place to address police misconduct. But a group of local religious leaders disagrees.
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Mike Mazzeo, the Locust Club’s President, said the proposed Police Accountability Board is an insult. “It’s done a disservice to the citizens of our city and insulted the proud and dedicated men and women of the Rochester Police Locust Club who serve with honor, commitment, and dedication,” said Mazzeo.
If approved, the Board would review complaints and discipline officers who have engaged in misconduct. But Mazzeo say those things are already being done, and that anyone who says otherwise is mistaken.
Mazzeo commented, “[Some simply] choose to believe countless acts of misconduct and brutality simply went unchecked and not investigated, and that the police are allowed to run rampant in our city, injuring or killing people in the city of Rochester.”
Leaders from Roc-Acts say police cannot hold other police officers accountable. They also say having an independent body in the complaint process is necessary. “Voices are unrepresented in police complaints when they have to go through the police in order to make a complaint,” said Reverend Lane Campbell, a member of Roc-Acts. “There’s a lack of trust there in our community.”
Campbell says if the Board is approved, it could provide a closer connection between police and the community. “We really see the Police Accountability Board as an opportunity to bridge that trust, and create that trust, and to really give our community a voice,” said Campbell.
Voters will decide the issue next Tuesday. Experts say even if voters approve the referendum, chances are the issue would head to court. That is because the Police Union claims that any power of civilians to discipline police officers would constitute a violation of the Union’s contract with City Hall.