The proposed new Police Accountability Board could be the city’s way of holding those in blue liable for their actions on the job, particularly in incidents of police brutality. Mayor Lovely Warren said last month that the new board would have “unprecedented powers to investigate complaints”, and be able to subpoena and compel testimony. When it comes to the proposal, Mike Mazzeo, the President of the Rochester Police Locust Club, feels a better approach could have been taken.
Mazzeo says, “Why didn’t we start together? Why don’t we start to work on some of what we see the issues as being, and then let’s start at step one. They almost make the effort to say ‘we want police officers to be reviewed by anybody but those who have any experience in law enforcement.'”
The Police Accountability Board Alliance, a separate police watchdog group, also have concerns about the mayor’s proposal. Pastor Wanda Wilson and Ted Forsyth of the alliance want it pulled, feeling it “lacks teeth” and say independent agencies, not law enforcement, should be looking into cases of police brutality. Further, the PAB would be advisory only, and lack disciplinary powers.
Pastor Wilson says, “With discipline in the hands of the community, we think then that justice will truly be served.”
Forsyth and Wilson add the mayor’s proposal limits investigations to just cases involving excessive use of force. They say systemic racism and targeting of the city’s poor are just two issues on a list that need to be looked at to include with the PAB proposal.
Wilson adds, “I think that we would also have liked to work together as a community, to put together the legislation.”
Mayor Warren’s office did release a statement this afternoon on the PAB, saying:
“The City Administration’s proposal will create a Police Accountability Board that is legally permissible under the laws of the State of New York. Other proposals that have been suggested would not withstand legal challenge. As proposed by the Administration, the Police Accountability Board would have unprecedented authority – including subpoena power to compel testimony and the production of evidence – to investigate complaints as well as work toward better policies related to the use of force. I am looking forward to working with City Council and community stakeholders to develop a legally permissible Police Accountability Board that will improve public safety by improving the public’s trust and creating a fully transparent investigative process that’s fair to both the community and the officers.”