ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Activists for social justice and police reform in Rochester are reacting to the pause in hiring at the Police Accountability Board pending investigations into personnel complaints.
Even before 2020, organizers with Save Rochester and others were calling for a new entity to investigate brutality complaints against Rochester police. Now with the Police Accountability Board caught up in its own internal investigation, they fear it delays them from helping the public.
Since PAB launched, Mike Johnson of Save Rochester has been tuning into all their meetings and participating in public feedback to show what the city expects from them. But since Executive Director Conor Reynolds was put on leave, the lack of transparency has been disappointing.
“There’s little to no transparency to what we’re getting around these issues,” Johnson said. “And to bring in outside counsel from other areas I think that’s muddying the waters even further.”
While agreeing to hire Constangy, Brooks, Smith, and Prophete to investigate PAB personnel complaints all hiring is paused and no spending can be authorized without the approval of City Council President Miguel Melendez Jr. Johnson fears this puts too much politicization into what PAB was meant for.
“It’s a huge conflict of interest to see that the City Council now has their hand in the police accountability board and their daily operations and affairs now,” Johnson said. “It is supposed to be the people’s police accountability board. Not city hall.”
City Council President Miguel Melendez Jr. told us in a statement these are decisive actions for greater oversight of the Police Accountability Board.
Adding, “We all want to get to the truth, and I believe we should do so in a way that is fair to the employees involved. I also believe that once this process is complete the entire community needs to be made aware of exactly what has transpired and how it will be corrected.”
In numerous requests to the Police Accountability Board to comment, they said they do not discuss internal matters for privacy reasons and declined any interviews. The City Council hopes to have these investigations into PAB complaints completed in 30-45 days.