What is the Police Accountability Board (PAB)?
The Police Accountability Board is a proposal to transform the police accountability system in Rochester. The PAB will be a civilian-administered board that will investigate and adjudicate complaints of police misconduct. The PAB will have the power to: (1) independently investigate complaints, (2) compel the production of evidence and testimony via subpoenas, (3) discipline officers, and (4) review and assess Rochester Police Department policy to recommend changes to prevent misconduct from occurring in the first place.
Will the PAB be independent?
Effective oversight is not possible if officers are responsible for reviewing complaints against their fellow officers. To avoid this conflict of interest, the PAB will use independent investigators who are not employed by the Rochester Police Department or any other law enforcement agency.
How will PAB investigate cases of misconduct?
The PAB’s investigators will interview witnesses and collect all relevant evidence necessary to thoroughly investigation civilian complaints of police misconduct. The PAB will have the power to issue subpoenas to compel the production of evidence and testimony. The PAB will have access to all Rochester Police Department records, including body camera footage.
Don’t we already have police accountability system in Rochester?
Yes and no. Currently complaints of misconduct are investigated by the Rochester Police Department itself. Thereafter, the Rochester Police Department’s findings are reviewed by a “Civilian Review Board.” However, this process has not worked to ensure accountability because the investigations are not independent, and the Civilian Review Board lacks the power to conduct investigations and has no power to discipline offenders. Further, the root causes of misconduct, including Rochester Police Department policies are not adequately addressed. Therefore, the current process is broken and it is high time for change.
What can Rochester City Council do?
The Rochester City Council can establish the PAB by passing legislation adopting the proposal. While many members of City Council view the PAB proposal favorably, it is still vitally important to urge your City Council representatives to establish the PAB immediately!
What can the Mayor do?
The mayor has great power to influence the police accountability process because the mayor appoints the Chief of Police, who is responsible for disciplining officers and for making changes to Rochester Police Department policy. Thus, it is vitally important to urge the Mayor endorse and fight for the PAB!
How can I file a complaint of police misconduct with the PAB?
Once the PAB is established, it will take complaints in various locations around the city, and online.
My friend is a police officer, will the PAB treat him/her fairly?
Yes, the PAB will uphold all due process rights as required by New York State law. Further, regarding discipline, the PAB will use a “disciplinary matrix” which will make discipline consistent from one officer to the next, as opposed to the current system which allows for favoritism and different punishments for different officers.
How will the PAB address systemic injustice including racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and other forms of discrimination?
The PAB will publish an annual report reviewing and assessing Rochester Police Department policies with recommended changes sent to City Council. The goal of the assessment will be to determine how to change the policy prevent misconduct and discrimination in the first place.