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Changes will allow a former officer to serve on Rochester Police Accountability Board

Local News

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — Changes to proposed legislation that would create a police accountability board in Rochester would allow a former police officer to fill one spot on the board.

But, lawmakers say only one former law enforcement officer could serve on the board at a time. And that officer can’t be a former Rochester police officer and has to have left their law enforcement job three years prior to joining the board.

Among other changes, as previously reported, the legislation would be approved by voters before becoming law. The amendments would also prevent anonymous complaints from being probed.

The city council’s police accountability board proposal followed a similar proposal from Mayor Warren. The key difference between the proposals is the council’s legislation gives the accountability board the power to punish officers, something the mayor’s office has said may not be legal.

A council spokesperson says the legislation may be considered during a meeting on Thursday, but won’t be adopted until at least Tuesday, May 21, 2019 during a normal meeting.

Again, before the measure becomes law, a public vote will be held in November.

Other changes:

  • The legislation will only apply to sworn members of the Rochester Police Department and not civilians in the Department. 
  • The definition of the Disciplinary Matrix will clarify that the matrix will determine a range of disciplinary actions.
  • In order to ensure a smooth transition, the Civilian Review Board will continue to operate until an Executive Director has been hired by the PAB and the Board policies and procedures have been installed. 
  • Allowing up to one member of the PAB to have a background in law enforcement, as long as three (3) or more years have elapsed since their employment in the sector. However, any person who has been employed by the Rochester Police Department would still be prohibited from serving on the PAB.
  • Filling of vacancies will be determined by a process created by the PAB. 
  • Anonymous complaints will not be investigated. 
  • In order to issue a subpoena, the majority of the PAB must vote in the affirmative.
  • A member of the Rochester Police Department, with the rank of Captain or higher, will be available to the PAB to answer questions on police policies, practices or general orders.  That person will not be a member of the RPD’s Professional Standards Section or a Commanding Officer of the officer(s) involved in the case. 
  • PAB decisions will be communicated to the Chief and the complainant only.  
  • The PAB may seek legal counsel at its discretion. 
  • The PAB legislation, if passed, would go to a referendum vote this November.  Ultimately giving the electorate the power to decide if a PAB should or should not be in place.
  • Miscellaneous edits cleaning up language and maintaining continuity throughout. 

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