No disciplinary powers for Rochester Police Accountability Board, says court ruling

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester’s Police Accountability Board will not have disciplinary powers, according to a New York State Supreme Court ruling.

Back in November, Rochester voters overwhelmingly approved of the PAB referendum, with 75% of the vote. In January, the nine members of the board were approved by Rochester City Council.

Just hours before the PAB’s first meeting in January, the board lost its disciplinary power due to a court injunction.

The Rochester Police Locust Club, which has consistently challenged the formation and powers of the PAB, took the matter of disciplinary power to court.

“We brought that argument to City Council right from the start, that it was never about, a concern about accountability,” said Mike Mazzeo, Rochester Locust Club President, in a telephone interview with News 8. “There’s multiple layers of accountability that we work under already. The concerns we brought forward were the violations of state law and in regards to our collective bargaining rights and current language in our contract.”

A separate statement issued by the Locust Club Thursday said, “The decision of the court allows City Council to correct the legislation that violates law. Our fight against the legislation from the start was not about stopping accountability, it was about protecting unionized workers from illegal legislation.”

Page 25 of the court’s ruling (full document below), said in part:

City Council officials say they intend to appeal this decision.

“The Court’s decision negates the will of the citizens of Rochester,” said Loretta Scott, Rochester City Council President, in a statement, “and the City Council stands ready to appeal Judge Ark’s ruling to the higher courts. We must operate within the context of our legal system, but the City Council is ready to defend the will of our citizens, and this decision is not the final say.

In a media briefing via Zoom, Andrew Celli, the City Council’s lawyer, discussed how he and his clients would move forward.

“We are going to ask the higher court to change that ruling, and to find that New York State granted the power to the City of Rochester, and the City of Rochester has the power to give that authority to the Police Accountability Board,” said Celli.

Full ruling

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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