ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester Police Accountability Board (PAB) announced chief investigator Duwaine Bascoe will take over as acting manager of the organization. Bascoe will still fill his current role as chief investigator as he takes over the leadership of the agency.
Earlier this month, the PAB announced its executive director, Conor Dwyer Reynolds, was placed on administrative leave.
Details as to why Reynolds was suspended have not yet been made public and PAB officials said they do not discuss ongoing employee-related complaints or investigations.
Independent law firms are overseeing the investigations regarding Reynolds.
Reynolds, a Rochester native, was named the organization’s first executive director in October 2020. The year prior, city voters overwhelmingly approved of the creation of the PAB, but court rulings since its founding have stripped the organization of disciplinary power.
Last year, the City Council approved Rochester’s budget which included $5 million to fully fund the PAB, which would allow the organization to hire more full-time staffers. PAB officials said in early February, with the announcement of five new full-time hires, that the organization was closer to its goal of launching investigations in spring 2022.
“As far as right now, we have a remaining amount of $2.3 million of the $5 million,” Bascoe said. “The $5 million has not all been spent at this time.”
Bascoe was one of the five full-time hires announced in February. According to the PAB, Bascoe is a litigation attorney whose work has been recognized by organizations ranging from the Rochester Business Journal, Rochester Chamber of Commerce, and the Monroe County Bar Association.
In addition to the PAB’s leadership announcement Friday morning, officials detailed a 30-day plan which will outline “how the PAB will transform policing in Rochester,” including how the board will accept formal complaints of police misconduct from the community, reviews of Rochester Police Department policies, and how the PAB will maintain its status as an independent agency.
According to Bascoe, the board’s investigations will formally begin on June 20, and he said there will be a meeting before that with the PAB, RPD, and City Council.
“We cannot conduct full investigations with the cooperation of the RPD,” Bascoe said. “Presently, we have secured a meeting on June 6 where we will come to terms of consent for PAB to get access to body-worn camera footage, and ride-along schedules with officers.”
Ahead of the June 20 formal launch date for the PAB to begin investigations, the new acting manager said there will be a form on the PAB website where community members may submit inquiries. Community members may also call or mail in inquiries.
“The calls that we have gotten already will be the first priority,” Bascoe said.
Bascoe said there are currently five investigators and caseload assignments will be based on staffing. He said concerns from the public over delays in launching investigations are due to “building an agency from the ground up.”
“We don’t yet have access to certain city services,” Bascoe said. “Even cleaning — a caseload manager vacuumed this room we’re in for this announcement.”
Four days prior to Friday’s investigation launch date announcement, the board accused City Council of “trying to take over” in an open letter.
Members of the city council at the time challenged what the organization was doing if not investigating police. PAB member Arlene Brown said the board needs support and not criticism.
“It’s very known to everyone that we built this from the ground up,” Brown said. “It’s very hard to build the tracks, be the engineer and get the people on board. The way we lay it out has to be as close to perfect as possible, and we understand the concern of the community. What I would like to hear instead of when are you going to open is what can we do to help you get there. I would much prefer to see critique what we do rather than criticize what we do to tear it down.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.