ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The new interim executive director of the Police Accountability Board, Sherry Walker-Cowart, shared her thoughts on the vision for the agency and ways to move it forward. This, as the PAB tries to get back on track after a set of lawsuits and high-level resignations.
Walker-Cowart was selected by board members and had her first day on the job on January 3rd. Her main focus right now is stability within the organization and getting enough staff on board to do the work they need to do.
Walker-Cowart wants to get investigations through the process and to the board so they can then get those findings and referrals back to the police department. One thing she wants to make clear: work is happening at the PAB. Calls are coming in, and being answered by case managers.
She said she wants to change public safety on a systematic level. The main mission she said is to hold officers accountable for misconduct and to help re-imagine what public safety looks like for the community.
She reacted to the current case of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, a death at the hands of police that has gained national attention. She said this is a prime example of why organizations like the PAB.
“It’s just as important as it always has been in making sure that police are held accountable. Those who operate in a way that amounts to misconduct individually, that needs to happen certainly. And perhaps looking at the culture of policing… locally and nationally is something I believe that everyone is doing, so there are different times throughout our history that some egregious acts have happened, and this is another one that reminds us how important it is to have the right policing and community relations,” she said.
For 12 years Cowart was the CEO of the Center for Dispute Settlement— promoting conflict resolutions in the community.
Walker-Cowart said there are job openings for the PAB. To apply, head over to the City of Rochester’s webpage.