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The City of Rochester fails to hold police officers accountable for misconduct and brutality. Between 2001 and 2016, citizens filed 923 allegations of excessive force against the RPD. The Chief of Police, who has the sole power to discipline officers, only sustained 16 of these allegations. The Chief of Police cannot be expected to investigate, evaluate, and discipline police officers. This is a clear conflict of interest. Between 2002 and 2016, only 13 allegations led to discipline. The harshest discipline was 6 suspensions for sustained allegations of use of force. None were fired. Police misconduct will continue unless this broken system is replaced with an independent system that serves the interests of the people of Rochester, not just the RPD.

A coalition of community organizations came together in 2017 and proposed a Police Accountability Board (PAB) to replace the current broken system. The proposed PAB would be a civilian-led oversight board that is rooted in five essential pillars:

  • An independent agency of city government, separate from RPD
  • The power to independently investigate complaints of police misconduct
  • Subpoena power to compel the production of evidence and witnesses
  • Disciplinary power
  • The power to review and evaluate RPD patterns, practices, policies and procedures to recommend systemic changes and to prevent misconduct from happening in the first place.

Currently The Locust Club, the RPD's police union, is challenging the disciplinary power of the PAB in court. Although the NYS Supreme Court ruled against us, Rochester City Council is appealing the decision to a higher court.

In addition to the five pillars, sufficient funding is required so that complaints of misconduct are resolved efficiently and effectively in 90 days. To handle the volume of complaints that are filed in Rochester, the PAB will require a funding equal to 1% of RPD’s budget, one million dollars, a reasonable cost of true accountability, and an investment which will result in far fewer costly lawsuits against the city involving excessive force.

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