Rochester Police Accountability Board seeking public input on reform recommendations

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester Police Accountability Board is asking for public input on the recommendations it will send to the city’s police reform working group.

The group is tasked with developing a plan to modernize police practices in accordance with an executive order Governor Cuomo issued in June, requiring every police department in the state to develop a plan by April 1, 2021.

The PAB released preliminary findings Wednesday, based on answers collected from a survey. The board says it still needs more data, but would like to hear from residents as it finalizes the official recommendations it will send to the city.

The board says the survey found:

  • Rochester has twice as many police officers per resident than the average similarly sized city.
  • The RPD has used practices widely seen as controversial or harmful.
  • The RPD may lack an internal culture that keeps its officers and Rochesterians fully safe.
  • Rochesterians from many backgrounds appear to want a thorough reimagining of public safety, rather than piecemeal reform.

The board’s preliminary recommendations are that the city should:

  • drastically expand staffing for and use of first responder systems that substitute police officers with social workers and mental health providers
  • support a community-led process to educate Rochesterians about how the City’s limited public safety dollars can be spent, learn the spending priorities of city residents, and develop a budget that reflects those priorities in staffing and funding levels
  • create trainings and disciplinary policies that end RPD’s use of breathing restrictions like chokeholds, chemical weapons like tear gas, protest response devices like sound cannons, and high-risk practices like no-knock warrants
  • boost funding for training, prevention, and response systems within RPD that address work-related stress and trauma in ways that shield officers, their families, and the people they serve
  • make policing transparent by collecting and releasing comprehensive data on the RPD’s enforcement patterns, internal culture, and policing practices while making public all aspects of officer training
  • protect residents and officers by investigating and dismantling structures of white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia that may exist in the RPD’s culture and practices

“These initial proposals aim to serve as a starting point for community discussion,” Police Accountability Board Chair Shani Wilson said in a statement issued Wednesday. “The feedback we receive will help the Board learn what first steps toward a reimagining of public safety this Working Group should take.”

Rochester residents and organizations can submit comments to the board by emailing pab@cityofrochester.gov, or filling out the online form available through this link. Comments must be submitted by January 15.

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