ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The newly formed Rochester Police Accountability Board met for the first time Tuesday.
However, just hours before their first meeting was set to take place, the board lost its power to discipline officers due to an injunction, a temporary setback for those who wanted the PAB to start their work with more authority from the start.
Back in November, Rochester voters overwhelmingly approved of the PAB referendum.
Since Election Day, the Rochester Police Locust Club has maintained that the PAB is illegal, and has continued to challenge it in the courts. According to the Locust club website, the union is claiming that the proposed Police Accountability Board is illegal for three reasons:
- The proposed legislation is in violation of New York State Civil Service Law and the police union labor contract.
- Members of the PAB would not have training, experience, or expertise in the field of law enforcement. City Council Legislation
- The proposed legislation would needlessly spend more than $1,000,000 of taxpayer money annually.
While the Locust Club’s lawsuit makes its way through the courts, the City of Rochester and police union have agreed to a six-month stay on giving the PAB board disciplinary power.
Tuesday’s agreement doesn’t mean the PAB is illegal, it just strips the board of certain powers — including disciplinary measures — until the law is more thoroughly reviewed and ruled on in the courts.
According to the agreement (full document below):
“During the term of this Stipulated Injunction, City Council may select and appoint members to the Board and, thereafter, the Board may work to develop rules and procedures, hire an Executive Director and perform functions not related to police discipline.”
In response to Tuesday’s injunction, city officials released this statement:
“On behalf of Mayor Warren, though we appreciate Judge Ark’s offer to assist, in deference to the city voters who participated in the referendum process, we would prefer to have Judge Ark rule on Local Law #2, as adopted by City Council, and then reassess our options to the extent appropriate.”
Two weeks ago, Rochester City Council announced the members of the 9-person PAB:
Rochester City Council announced the members of the newly formed Police Accountability Board Wednesday.
- Dr. Robert Harrisson III
- Ida Perez
- Rabbi Drorah Setel
- Rev. Matthew Nickoloff
- Jonathon Dollhopf
- Miquel Powell
- Shani Wilson
- Dr. Celia McIntosh
- Rev. Dr. Rickey B Harvey
Before Tuesday’s agreement, the nine member board would have had the power to investigate complaints, subpoena evidence and witnesses, disciplinary power, review police practice and recommend changes.
The nine PAB board members were selected by:
- Four members nominates by the City Council with one PAB member residing in each of the four Council districts.
- Four members nominated from names submitted by the Police Accountability Board Alliance (PABA).
- One member nominated by Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren.
News 8 has reached out to several parties involved in the matter, but those groups have not immediately returned a request for comment.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.