ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A Wednesday court ruling says a referendum vote on the proposed Police Accountability Board can appear on November’s ballot, but the votes won’t count.
Earlier this month, the Rochester Police Locust Club filed a lawsuit against the City of Rochester, Mayor Lovely Warren, Rochester City Council, and the Monroe County Board of Elections.
In his decision, the judge said the referendum can’t be voted on, ‘until further order of the court.’ He said this is a complicated issue and it would be a disservice to the community to make a legal judgment without analyzing it thoroughly.
Judge Ark said, “Ultimately, any legislation submitted for a referendum on a matter of this importance should be a well-crafted, possibly judicially- honed law.”
The Rochester Police Locust Club is claiming victory, and issued a statement following the court ruling:
“We are pleased that the court has seen the need to stay the referendum vote at this time. From the start of city council’s work on this legislation we attempted to explain the need to thoroughly understand and research the intricate specifics that encompass police discipline. City Council did a disservice to the community and our members by disregarding our input and the input of the police department when crafting legislation for a board that would ultimately discipline police.”
The lawsuit stemmed from a proposed Police Accountability Board, known legally as Local law No. 2. The Locust Club filed a lawsuit to remove the referendum on the accountability board from appearing on the ballot on Election Day — November 5, 2019.
City Council passed the referendum on May 21 and Mayor Warren approved it on June 7. City council president, Loretta Scott, said this on Wednesday after the ruling:
“I am disappointed with today’s court decision and feel that Judge Ark’s ruling to disallow the referendum vote while still printing the proposition on the ballot will be confusing to voters. Our plan is to seek immediate review of this decision by a higher court and it is my hope that the matter will be heard expeditiously allowing for Rochesterians’ voices to be heard on November 5th.“
The Locust Club has long been against the proposed Police Accountability Board.
The proposed board has been a hotly debated issue locally. Several different ideas for the proposal have emerged, from putting police officers on the board to giving the board disciplinary powers, but each development has been met with pushback from one side or the other.
The election commissioner said ballots, with the referendum, have already been mailed to military and overseas voters. The judge addressed this in his decision, saying the referendum can appear on the ballot but it just can’t be voted on yet. The commissioner said they can program their scanners to not count the referendum.
- Changes will allow a former officer to serve on Rochester Police Accountability Board
- New proposal would give accountability board the power to discipline Rochester officers
- Protesters oppose allowing officers to serve on Rochester police accountability board
- Legislation would create new police accountability board in Rochester with increased powers
- Police union protests Rochester City Council plan for police accountability board
- Police Accountability Board Alliance Fundraising ahead of November Ballot
- Organizations react to city’s proposed Police Accountability Board
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.